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D20ragon
2017-11-01, 10:44 PM
I've recently been dabbling in game design, (EDIT: okay, it's been pointed out that I should specify this isn't the first time in game design for me, but my first time doing a completely original system, I've only done hacks before) seeking to create an rpg that combines elements of games that I'm a fan of, while getting rid of what I and my group have little patience for. In doing so, I've run into more than a few questions that need answering, one of which is, of course, do I want to a class based or classless system. While the game designer in me says that classless is the way to go, I have no small amount of love for classes, but, in particular, the archetypes they represent. I take issue with many class based systems as I find the classes become incredibly specific, driving players to play very particular characters in a very particular way that discourages originality.

To that end, I've decided to go with some sort of Archetype based system, but before I can even get close to touching the details, I'd like to decide which Archetypes I'll actually be using. I've considered the Major Arcana of Tarot Decks, the Traditional Literary Archetypes and most recently the Jungian Archetypes, as well as of course just developing my own list. In any case, I thought I'd turn to the forums. What do you fine people think? Have you ever attempted/played or run a system that had something similar? Do you have a set of Archetypes, original or not, that you're fond of? Should I make my own list, what would I be remiss not to include? How to allow for variation within Archetypes while still giving characters the comfortable identity that comes with an Archetype/Class?

A long post what explains some stuff that I should have explained beforehand (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=22532547&postcount=21)

Lord Raziere
2017-11-01, 11:10 PM
I personally like:
Reluctant Monster, Rebel Leader, Loveable Rogue, The Trickster, and The Cynic, things like that. this is just what I pulled off of tvtropes, but its hard to name these archetypes when they're usually invisible.

D20ragon
2017-11-01, 11:20 PM
tvtropes is an excellent place for me to go looking and Iím embarrassed I didnít think of that on my own. Thank you. :smallredface:

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-02, 06:49 AM
I was going to suggest classless when I started reading your opening post.

Still going to suggest that you treat archetypes as a tookbox for making a individual characters, and not as highly specialized pigeonholes that strongly control which abilities the character has access to.

Grod_The_Giant
2017-11-02, 07:31 AM
My gut instinct is that trying to base archetypes off personality is not the way to go. In an ideal world, classes exist to provide mechanical structure to a game, and (perhaps) a built-in connection to the setting. What they should not do is dictate how you play your character. Why should The Leader be the only one who gets magic, or the Smart Guy the only ones who can use ranged weapons effectively? It's inherently limiting.

Rather, you should build classes around the different mechanical roles you want the game to include. Warrior, Rogue, and Mage, for instance. The Tank, the Glass Cannon, the Scout, the Face, and the Healer. That sort of thing. Broad gameplay roles, with options for mechanical customization and freedom of roleplaying.

JeenLeen
2017-11-02, 09:15 AM
I'd like to decide which Archetypes I'll actually be using. I've considered the Major Arcana of Tarot Decks, the Traditional Literary Archetypes and most recently the Jungian Archetypes, as well as of course just developing my own list. In any case, I thought I'd turn to the forums. What do you fine people think? Have you ever attempted/played or run a system that had something similar? Do you have a set of Archetypes, original or not, that you're fond of? Should I make my own list, what would I be remiss not to include? How to allow for variation within Archetypes while still giving characters the comfortable identity that comes with an Archetype/Class?

Archetypes are essentially Classes, so I'll use the terms interchangeably below.
I agree with Grod the Giant that linking personality too closely to classes is badly limiting. Party roles as classes (Healer, Face, Scout, etc.) seem reasonable. However, if you go with more abstract Archetypes (tarot arcana, Jungian archetypes, tropes), you could have it be literally that the Archetype is assumed by the person, in-universe. That is, this person knows they are emulating the powers of the Tough Guy/Tower Tarot/whatever. Perhaps add something like Backgrounds from 5e to give some versatility in skill proficiency or similar things, but this at least makes sense in-universe why some folk might be limited in certain ways. (I think this would work best if most people are not 'empowered' by an Archetype, but enough are that there are still threats from other human(oids).)

Note that you could go classless with Archetypes, where each Archetype is something like a Discipline or Sphere from World of Darkness. So a military leader might have 4 ranks of Fighter and 1 of Face, or something like that.

Or you could go classes, but with some abilities tied to character level, like cantrips in D&D 5e. That way Face 1 could give some abilities that are viable, to let someone who is otherwise a good fighter/wizard/whatever also be a leader.

Tinkerer
2017-11-02, 10:00 AM
The first possibility that comes to mind for answering your last question ("How to allow for variation within Archetypes while still giving characters the comfortable identity that comes with an Archetype/Class?") is that the characters summon the identity to themselves and wear it as a sort of internal power armour, winding up as a fusion of themselves and the archetype.

My preferred method of approach to this problem would be to utilize a mixture of class and classless systems by having the archetype be a set of bonuses which stack onto a classless system. So while you have classes they don't really restrict you, in a similar manner to classes from Elder Scrolls 4 and earlier. Gives you all the benefits of a class and classless system.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-02, 10:30 AM
Yeah, archetypes as a classification of personality is a non-starter. It's not a "comfortable identity", it's a straightjacket, a pigeonhole, and a gross oversimplification. Fiction and gaming would both be better off if Carl Jung, narrative roles, and character tropes cliches were all forgotten on the scrapheap of bad ideas.

Airk
2017-11-02, 11:02 AM
Much as I hate to come down on the same side of the fence as Max Killjoy (For the record, I disagree with his reasoning), I agree that unless you are writing a VERY SPECIFIC kind of game, you don't want to base your archetypes on fictional roles or personality types, because that's probably not what your game is about. Unless that IS what your game is about.

You probably need to step back a little here, because asking this kind of question this way tells me that you don't really have a lot of insight into the different ways games can work. It's absolutely possible to make a game where basing your archetypes on personalities or fictional roles (Meaning: "Roles they play in the fiction", not "Made up roles", because "Wizard" is totally a "fictional role" using the latter definition) makes a ton of sense - if you are making a game where the most important thing is how a character does/doesn't perform a fictional role or how they struggle with/conform to their character type, then those are totally appropriate. But if you are framing the question as "Well, I was thinking about whether I wanted CLASSES in my game..." then I can say with a high degree of certainty that you're not thinking about those kinds of games.

If you're seriously interested in expanding your ideas of how games might work, I'd suggest maybe taking a look at MASKS, since it approaches things from a very nonstandard angle that might help broaden your thinking a bit. If you're just interested in making a reactionary game that throws away stuff you don't like and keeps what you like from the games you've already played, that's fine too, but throw away the idea of using fictional archetypes or personality classifications as the basis for your archetypes and focus on what they ACTUALLY DO in the game. (Which will probably be "How do these people work in a fight?")

Lord Raziere
2017-11-02, 12:34 PM
oh come on guys, the usual classes get boring after a while, and he clearly doesn't care about people saying his way of doing things is bad or whatever. I'd actually think a roleplaying game with more flavorful archetypes other than MMO roles would sound kind of cool. you never know where something will take you unless you travel down the path and there is no time to waste dismissing paths out of hand if you don't know what lies at the end.

Airk
2017-11-02, 12:39 PM
oh come on guys, the usual classes get boring after a while, and he clearly doesn't care about people saying his way of doing things is bad or whatever. I'd actually think a roleplaying game with more flavorful archetypes other than MMO roles would sound kind of cool. you never know where something will take you unless you travel down the path and there is no time to waste dismissing paths out of hand if you don't know what lies at the end.

Well:

A) He's already said that he basically doesn't want "classes" just loose archetypes, so "The usual Classes get boring" is far from a valid argument, especially since there's no guarantee of "the usual" classes.
B) All I'm really saying is "Figure out where you are trying to get to, and then pick somewhere that goes there. It sounds like you are trying to go to a simulationist traditional system, so you should probably take your cues from simulationist traditional systems." (Though I also think the world already has plenty of traditional simulationist systems, so designing another one is more of a thought exercise than anything else.)

Grod_The_Giant
2017-11-02, 12:45 PM
oh come on guys, the usual classes get boring after a while, and he clearly doesn't care about people saying his way of doing things is bad or whatever. I'd actually think a roleplaying game with more flavorful archetypes other than MMO roles would sound kind of cool. you never know where something will take you unless you travel down the path and there is no time to waste dismissing paths out of hand if you don't know what lies at the end.
I mean, as with most things it's somewhat dependent on the type of game you're making. "Classes," archetypes, should be matched first to the mechanical focus of the game, then the thematics. If your game prioritizes physical combat, MMO roles make sense. If it's about exploring hostile environments, maybe you'd have something like Athlete, Scientist, Engineer, and Hunter. I could see more socially oriented classes in a game of courtly intrigue or something else with its strongest focus on conversations.

The fundamental problem with making personality-based classes work, as I see it, is that classes are a mechanical thing. They're collections of game-abilities and rules, packaged together. WHAT you can do, more than WHY. Otherwise there's no real purpose.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-02, 01:18 PM
If you want simulationism, you need to avoid classes and archetypes.

If you want classes and/or archetypes, you're diverging from simulationism.


(At least as I understand the terms, emulating genre or tropes falls squarely into narrativism; and establishing separated and distinct mechanical roles falls squarely into gamism.)

Airk
2017-11-02, 03:08 PM
If you want simulationism, you need to avoid classes and archetypes.

If you want classes and/or archetypes, you're diverging from simulationism.

I disagree; There is nothing that says "Dividing adventurers into broad categories doesn't accurately reflect the realities of this fantasy world." Some adventurers fit into the broad "fighter" category and kill things with weapons. Some adventurers fit into the broad "wizard" archetype and learn spells from books. As long as how well the fighter hits things is driven by "how the world works" rather than by dramatic/genre logic or game "fairness" then you have simulationism.

Classes and archetypes are simplifications, yes, but unless you are doing physics calculations at your table everytime someone fires an arrow, you are simplifying. There is nothing mutually exclusive about simplifications and simulation. Indeed, the latter pretty much REQUIRES the former, rather than being somehow exclusive of it.


(At least as I understand the terms, emulating genre or tropes falls squarely into narrativism; and establishing separated and distinct mechanical roles falls squarely into gamism.)

None of these falls "squarely" in any of these categories, because it's far more about how things are used than what you start with. Honestly, this stuff is only super tangentially related to any of these categories.

In any event, discussing this nonsense, AGAIN, is outside the scope of this thread. My original post stands on its own merits, even if you want to nitpick whether you can have classes while still being simulationist (hint: You can.)

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-02, 03:35 PM
I disagree; There is nothing that says "Dividing adventurers into broad categories doesn't accurately reflect the realities of this fantasy world." Some adventurers fit into the broad "fighter" category and kill things with weapons. Some adventurers fit into the broad "wizard" archetype and learn spells from books. As long as how well the fighter hits things is driven by "how the world works" rather than by dramatic/genre logic or game "fairness" then you have simulationism.

Classes and archetypes are simplifications, yes, but unless you are doing physics calculations at your table everytime someone fires an arrow, you are simplifying. There is nothing mutually exclusive about simplifications and simulation. Indeed, the latter pretty much REQUIRES the former, rather than being somehow exclusive of it.


Which presumes that all simplifications are created equal.




None of these falls "squarely" in any of these categories, because it's far more about how things are used than what you start with. Honestly, this stuff is only super tangentially related to any of these categories.

In any event, discussing this nonsense, AGAIN, is outside the scope of this thread. My original post stands on its own merits, even if you want to nitpick whether you can have classes while still being simulationist (hint: You can.)


How? Cramming characters into artificial categories based on narrative or game concerns immediately puts strain on the verisimilitude.

exelsisxax
2017-11-02, 03:35 PM
Stepping back from the meta on what games are, what do you actually want to do? I don't actually expect a simple answer - i expect that you don't actually know. You're sort of flailing at the wind here, with all of your complaints being about not liking class restrictions then asking a bunch of people on the internet to help you solidify a class-based system. It doesn't seem like you've played classless rpgs. If you check a few out, you might find something you like.

But in any case, you need to think further on what you think the problem actually is and try to convey that to us(verbosity is an asset here). Discussions stemming from that are probably going to be more worthwhile than responses to the OP, because they're trying to address the real problem they think you have(and are probably right).

Airk
2017-11-02, 03:58 PM
How? Cramming characters into artificial categories based on narrative or game concerns immediately puts strain on the verisimilitude.

Just because something doesn't jive with YOUR sense of verisimilitude does not mean it is not simulationist. Remember: Your preferences do not map precisely to definitions.

Anyway. As I noted, this has nothing to do with the OP, so if you want the last word, you can have it; I'm not going to debate this "issue" with you further.


Stepping back from the meta on what games are, what do you actually want to do? I don't actually expect a simple answer - i expect that you don't actually know. You're sort of flailing at the wind here, with all of your complaints being about not liking class restrictions then asking a bunch of people on the internet to help you solidify a class-based system. It doesn't seem like you've played classless rpgs. If you check a few out, you might find something you like.

But in any case, you need to think further on what you think the problem actually is and try to convey that to us(verbosity is an asset here). Discussions stemming from that are probably going to be more worthwhile than responses to the OP, because they're trying to address the real problem they think you have(and are probably right).

This is kinda what I was trying to drive at; The initial question doesn't give the sense that the OP has a strong handle on what the options are, or why they would choose a particular one.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-02, 04:05 PM
Just because something doesn't jive with YOUR sense of verisimilitude does not mean it is not simulationist. Remember: Your preferences do not map precisely to definitions.

Anyway. As I noted, this has nothing to do with the OP, so if you want the last word, you can have it; I'm not going to debate this "issue" with you further.


No, this one is pretty much objective.

Actual, real people don't come in or fit into "character classes" or "narrative archetypes" or "game roles" (and Jung was a self-absorbed manchild).

Cramming characters into those straightjackets grossly oversimplifies them as fictional people, and makes them less "as if they could be real".

Jama7301
2017-11-02, 04:11 PM
I had this whole thing written out, until I realized it amounted to "Remake 4th edition of D&D using the Roles (Striker/Defender/Leader/Controller) and Power Sources as a framework for deciding on archetypes using top down decision making process". Also had different class features you could take depending on your roles, but whatever, close enough.

Grim Portent
2017-11-02, 04:33 PM
I would say the most sensible route is to have a classless system with Archetypes represented by starting packages. It maximises the amount of mid and lategame character customisation while still starting with an easy springboard that encourages further investment into the established set of abilities. Might be worth leaving an option for build your own starting packages as well for people who want more control than normal over their character's starting skillset.

If you start with a 'Stabby' archetype it's generally more sensible to keep investing in stabbiness as you go on, but in a classless system there's no reason you have to keep doing so rather than picking up some magic or sneakiness. It makes it less punishing than most classed systems do if the team decides to all pick up some stealth skills later on in the game, or if someone decides to snag a support magic power.

It might be worth giving starting archetypes a unique ability that can't be taken later on but otherwise leave everything available to later character customisation. It's how the later 40k RPGs did it, each Archetype got a unique ability, some bonus stats and a different starting package but was mostly replicable by any other Archetype given enough exp to spend.

D20ragon
2017-11-02, 04:55 PM
My gut instinct is that trying to base archetypes off personality is not the way to go. In an ideal world, classes exist to provide mechanical structure to a game, and (perhaps) a built-in connection to the setting. What they should not do is dictate how you play your character. Why should The Leader be the only one who gets magic, or the Smart Guy the only ones who can use ranged weapons effectively? It's inherently limiting.

Rather, you should build classes around the different mechanical roles you want the game to include. Warrior, Rogue, and Mage, for instance. The Tank, the Glass Cannon, the Scout, the Face, and the Healer. That sort of thing. Broad gameplay roles, with options for mechanical customization and freedom of roleplaying.

I agree with this wholeheartedly, but my main issue is that I often find personality bound up in class mechanics. Ie, the mechanics of a rogue of course encourage rogue-ish behavior. Not that that's unexpected or even bad. Dealing with that is just a little challenge I've set myself.


Archetypes are essentially Classes, so I'll use the terms interchangeably below.
I agree with Grod the Giant that linking personality too closely to classes is badly limiting. Party roles as classes (Healer, Face, Scout, etc.) seem reasonable. However, if you go with more abstract Archetypes (tarot arcana, Jungian archetypes, tropes), you could have it be literally that the Archetype is assumed by the person, in-universe. That is, this person knows they are emulating the powers of the Tough Guy/Tower Tarot/whatever. Perhaps add something like Backgrounds from 5e to give some versatility in skill proficiency or similar things, but this at least makes sense in-universe why some folk might be limited in certain ways. (I think this would work best if most people are not 'empowered' by an Archetype, but enough are that there are still threats from other human(oids).)

Note that you could go classless with Archetypes, where each Archetype is something like a Discipline or Sphere from World of Darkness. So a military leader might have 4 ranks of Fighter and 1 of Face, or something like that.

Or you could go classes, but with some abilities tied to character level, like cantrips in D&D 5e. That way Face 1 could give some abilities that are viable, to let someone who is otherwise a good fighter/wizard/whatever also be a leader.

Working with spheres is indeed something I'm considering.


Yeah, archetypes as a classification of personality is a non-starter. It's not a "comfortable identity", it's a straightjacket, a pigeonhole, and a gross oversimplification. Fiction and gaming would both be better off if Carl Jung, narrative roles, and character tropes cliches were all forgotten on the scrapheap of bad ideas.

I disagree strongly with the sweeping strokes used here, but I definitely agree with archetypes dictating personality is a no go.


Much as I hate to come down on the same side of the fence as Max Killjoy (For the record, I disagree with his reasoning), I agree that unless you are writing a VERY SPECIFIC kind of game, you don't want to base your archetypes on fictional roles or personality types, because that's probably not what your game is about. Unless that IS what your game is about.

You probably need to step back a little here, because asking this kind of question this way tells me that you don't really have a lot of insight into the different ways games can work. It's absolutely possible to make a game where basing your archetypes on personalities or fictional roles (Meaning: "Roles they play in the fiction", not "Made up roles", because "Wizard" is totally a "fictional role" using the latter definition) makes a ton of sense - if you are making a game where the most important thing is how a character does/doesn't perform a fictional role or how they struggle with/conform to their character type, then those are totally appropriate. But if you are framing the question as "Well, I was thinking about whether I wanted CLASSES in my game..." then I can say with a high degree of certainty that you're not thinking about those kinds of games.

If you're seriously interested in expanding your ideas of how games might work, I'd suggest maybe taking a look at MASKS, since it approaches things from a very nonstandard angle that might help broaden your thinking a bit. If you're just interested in making a reactionary game that throws away stuff you don't like and keeps what you like from the games you've already played, that's fine too, but throw away the idea of using fictional archetypes or personality classifications as the basis for your archetypes and focus on what they ACTUALLY DO in the game. (Which will probably be "How do these people work in a fight?")
Emphasis mine. This is in fact mostly the kind of game that I intend this to be, and I expect I'll be making a few more threads discussing exactly that. However I also want people to point out fundamental issues with that, which is why criticism like yours is really welcomed. I get that's kind of unfair not to disclose the entirety of the context for my question in the OP, but I wanted suggestions that could prompt me to reconsider my premise entirely.
To be perfectly honest, I've actually worked a fair amount in rpg development, but doing hacks, never with an entirely original system. I asked this question in this way specifically to get these sorts of suggestions though, because I'm prone to overlooking the basics, and I'd love to start with a strong foundation for this project.


oh come on guys, the usual classes get boring after a while, and he clearly doesn't care about people saying his way of doing things is bad or whatever. I'd actually think a roleplaying game with more flavorful archetypes other than MMO roles would sound kind of cool. you never know where something will take you unless you travel down the path and there is no time to waste dismissing paths out of hand if you don't know what lies at the end.

Thanks for this, I agree entirely. This whole project is a bit of a thought experiment more than anything. I would have put that in the OP but I wanted to get responses that didn't take the experimental nature of the project into account, as like I said, I want strong fundamentals.


Well:

A) He's already said that he basically doesn't want "classes" just loose archetypes, so "The usual Classes get boring" is far from a valid argument, especially since there's no guarantee of "the usual" classes.
B) All I'm really saying is "Figure out where you are trying to get to, and then pick somewhere that goes there. It sounds like you are trying to go to a simulationist traditional system, so you should probably take your cues from simulationist traditional systems." (Though I also think the world already has plenty of traditional simulationist systems, so designing another one is more of a thought exercise than anything else.)


If you want simulationism, you need to avoid classes and archetypes.

If you want classes and/or archetypes, you're diverging from simulationism.


(At least as I understand the terms, emulating genre or tropes falls squarely into narrativism; and establishing separated and distinct mechanical roles falls squarely into gamism.)

What I'm doing falls more into narrativism, which I'm fine with, while trying to present an believable simulation of that narrative. I don't think that really explains my point well, but it's all I can think of right now. I want to be focused on narrative and in fact narrative roles, but at the same time, prevent player disbelief from ripping everything to shreds. If I read a work of fiction, I do not in fact take a particularly beautiful metaphor as truth, but I understand that, in the context of the world, it is entirely believable for me to interpret reality through this metaphor, and in fact that metaphor likely informs me somewhat on the nature of the reality I'm dealing with in the narrative. Does that make things clearer or did I just horribly muddle everything?


Stepping back from the meta on what games are, what do you actually want to do? I don't actually expect a simple answer - i expect that you don't actually know. You're sort of flailing at the wind here, with all of your complaints being about not liking class restrictions then asking a bunch of people on the internet to help you solidify a class-based system. It doesn't seem like you've played classless rpgs. If you check a few out, you might find something you like.

But in any case, you need to think further on what you think the problem actually is and try to convey that to us(verbosity is an asset here). Discussions stemming from that are probably going to be more worthwhile than responses to the OP, because they're trying to address the real problem they think you have(and are probably right).

I already answered this earlier, but yeah, this sort of response was actually really helpful to me in terms of inspiring me to consider a few things about my game. I'm hoping to continue the conversation, now that things have been clarified slightly.


Just because something doesn't jive with YOUR sense of verisimilitude does not mean it is not simulationist. Remember: Your preferences do not map precisely to definitions.

Anyway. As I noted, this has nothing to do with the OP, so if you want the last word, you can have it; I'm not going to debate this "issue" with you further.



This is kinda what I was trying to drive at; The initial question doesn't give the sense that the OP has a strong handle on what the options are, or why they would choose a particular one.

Yeah, I'm sorry about that, but as I've said quite a few times now, this sort of discussion, while a little unfair to those involved, and not painting me in the most flattering light, was really helpful to me.



Now, to recap, and hopefully prompt further discussion:

The game I intend to make is a game which I rather pretentiously intend to enable "literary fantasy roleplaying." I want a game that can allow players to create games that reflect not only the rather tired tolkienesque fantasy that inspired D&D, but far weirder works of fantasy and magical realism. Because I aim to tackle such a broad and unruly subject, while still maintaining a cohesive "feel" across each game, I want "classes" of some some kind. Even as a writer who has built their career on original fiction, I feel that archetypes are to some degree unavoidable. The struggle of an author to vest in a fictional character life outside of the archetype they play, is in my opinion something that drives a great deal of very interesting writing, and something I'd like to incorporate into this game. Personality being separate from archetype is something very important to that. I want to encourage players to work with/within archetypes to create entirely unexpected characters. I actually plan on a mouse-guard/torchbearer style nature stat, reflecting how closely the character cleaves to their archetypal fate, and to what degree they struggle against it.
My main issue then, is what archetypes. TVtropes borders on overly specific, Jungian archetypes interest me but of course are intrinsically tied to personality, and a few interpretations of tarot are proving perhaps my best route so far outside of creating my own, which I've been a little too drained to make a proper go at this week.
Something I've been considering is having classes represent the way the character will be remembered, should they die and centuries pass. Obviously, people will not remember crucial things about them, but when it comes down to it, what kind of role will they play in the stories told about them years after they are gone. A sphere style system might work well with that, with players simply choosing one as their highest upon starting play, and having that starting score represent the limited deeds they've done so far. Then, as the game goes on, different deeds lead to fluctuations in scores, and the character who began as a scoundrel ends up being remembered as a valiant knight, when all is said and done. That might be entirely bad game design for all sorts of reasons, but after so much time spent hacking other peoples systems, I'm really looking to try some stuff that, I personally think is cool.
However, I still want the game to be playable, and good at that, so these fundamental criticisms I received due to my vague OP and other criticisms like them, are welcomed and encouraged in addition criticisms or questions about my strange and somewhat silly idea.


EDIT: I noticed some posts were made while I was writing this, sorry that I couldn't address them in this long post. Also, I'm going to link this post in the OP, so people can get a better idea of what I'm talking about.

Knaight
2017-11-02, 04:56 PM
For the OP:
Fundamentally what classes are appropriate for your game is highly dependent on how the game is structured. A party focused game built around task resolution mechanics about overcoming challenges suggests a very different way to build classes than a scene focused game about character personality conflicts and personality changes that hops from character conflict to character conflict.

Fortunately, you suggested that you have a specific list of games you like and mechanics you don't like that you're working from. If this list were made available to the thread it would vastly improve our ability to make useful suggestions.

EDIT: That last post was posted while I was writing this one, and it changes things a bit. Namely, it suggests that it would absolutely be worth your time to dig into folklore a bit. More specifically, you want to look at some of the broader categories in various motif-indices. It's dry reading, but worthwhile.

On the tangent:

Actual, real people don't come in or fit into "character classes" or "narrative archetypes" or "game roles" (and Jung was a self-absorbed manchild).

They do however have specific training, perform specific jobs, and potentially come from specific and highly regimented social groups depending on how their society is structured (various hard caste systems, military ranks, and systems of nobility during periods where the nobility actually has a good hold on power come to mind).

This is particularly true for a military campaign. Sticking to fiction here, a Starfleet Officer has gone to a particular academy, and undergone specific training. A class based (but probably not level based) system that has classes like Starfleet Command, Starfleet Engineering, Starfleet Medical, Starfleet Security, and possibly a few for enlisted crew would work just fine for a Star Trek game. Other classes would work for other military structures.

D20ragon
2017-11-02, 05:03 PM
For the OP:
Fundamentally what classes are appropriate for your game is highly dependent on how the game is structured. A party focused game built around task resolution mechanics about overcoming challenges suggests a very different way to build classes than a scene focused game about character personality conflicts and personality changes that hops from character conflict to character conflict.

Fortunately, you suggested that you have a specific list of games you like and mechanics you don't like that you're working from. If this list were made available to the thread it would vastly improve our ability to make useful suggestions.

On the tangent:


They do however have specific training, perform specific jobs, and potentially come from specific and highly regimented social groups depending on how their society is structured (various hard caste systems, military ranks, and systems of nobility during periods where the nobility actually has a good hold on power come to mind).

This is particularly true for a military campaign. Sticking to fiction here, a Starfleet Officer has gone to a particular academy, and undergone specific training. A class based (but probably not level based) system that has classes like Starfleet Command, Starfleet Engineering, Starfleet Medical, Starfleet Security, and possibly a few for enlisted crew would work just fine for a Star Trek game. Other classes would work for other military structures.

As far as I go, yes, I do plan to list those games. I'm pressed for time right now, but either in this thread or a more comprehensive thread that more fully presents the system, I do plan on listing those for reference.
As far as the tangent goes, no comment? I'd just ask that people be respectful-ish and not completely take over the thread. Discourse is fine, but I would also like some help, now that I've explained myself a bit.

Knaight
2017-11-02, 05:09 PM
As far as I go, yes, I do plan to list those games. I'm pressed for time right now, but either in this thread or a more comprehensive thread that more fully presents the system, I do plan on listing those for reference.
As far as the tangent goes, no comment? I'd just ask that people be respectful-ish and not completely take over the thread. Discourse is fine, but I would also like some help, now that I've explained myself a bit.

Like I said in the edit, the post above gives a better idea of what to offer as advice - and folklore as an academic field is basically exactly what you're looking for, with motif-indices in particular potentially having value. With that said, there's also always the outdated textbook method; going back an edition or two can take textbooks from overpriced to downright cheap. The Dynamics of Folklore will run you less than ten dollars.

the_david
2017-11-02, 05:39 PM
It might help to look at things like race, class, archetype and backgrounds (In 5e D&D, just an example.) as templates. They're mandatory so everybody must have one of each and they add something to the way your character interacts with the world/rules. Templates can be as big and complicated as a class (In Pathfinder, another example.) or as small as a trait. (Still Pathfinder, for comparison)

So what you basically want is a template. There are multiple ways to do this, and it doesn't really matter what you call them. If you want to call them archetypes that's okay, but you might as well go with personality traits or poopyfarts. Well, maybe not poopyfarts. Remember that your templates can be as complex or as simple as you want them to be.

Am I making any sense? I'm not sure if template would be the correct word to use. How about poopyfarts?

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-02, 06:46 PM
On the tangent:


They do however have specific training, perform specific jobs, and potentially come from specific and highly regimented social groups depending on how their society is structured (various hard caste systems, military ranks, and systems of nobility during periods where the nobility actually has a good hold on power come to mind).

This is particularly true for a military campaign. Sticking to fiction here, a Starfleet Officer has gone to a particular academy, and undergone specific training. A class based (but probably not level based) system that has classes like Starfleet Command, Starfleet Engineering, Starfleet Medical, Starfleet Security, and possibly a few for enlisted crew would work just fine for a Star Trek game. Other classes would work for other military structures.


I'd suggest that those sorts of things are training or education packages, not classes or archetypes.

JBPuffin
2017-11-02, 07:27 PM
I'd suggest that those sorts of things are training or education packages, not classes or archetypes.

Whatís the difference? Different terms for the same thing, although I can understand wanting to avoid the baggage associated with the term and wanting to make having multiple more explicitly okay.

OP, color me interested; a lot of RPGs try various ways to make their renditions of archetypes different. Seeing an authentically different set of archetypes would be cool.

Floret
2017-11-02, 07:28 PM
For Narrative roles, and how the character is remembered... Maybe try looking at specifically the Trope of the Five-man Band (See TvTropes for that one), how it is implemented/transposed onto different kinds of media, what additional roles there are surrounding it (Sixth ranger; or the extension to the Seven Samurai Setup, for example), etc.
There is quite an amount of freedom in each role, but they also carry quite clear meaning - most people familiar with the trope, will sort the same five-man group the same way; but a character might work in different roles in different teams, even without changing themselves.

I have noticed that even though I tend to play with 5-player groups, RPG groups tend to fit the pattern much more vaguely than groups from other media (But that might just be my games); but maybe that is a reason FOR implementing a system "enforcing" sticking to it, rather than a reason against.
(It would have the added bonus of not straining simulationist concerns that much - it is, after all, an outside projection onto your group of heroes, not the truth of them. That projection might well give them certain abilites - either to interact with the world (Being know as a Smart guy might get you into libraries faster than being know as a Tough guy, no matter your actual intelligence); or by having people's belief about you shape your powers in some bit (Which would have to be represented setting-wise, of course), in a lower-powered mirror of the "Gods get powers from belief" trope.

D20ragon
2017-11-02, 10:38 PM
Like I said in the edit, the post above gives a better idea of what to offer as advice - and folklore as an academic field is basically exactly what you're looking for, with motif-indices in particular potentially having value. With that said, there's also always the outdated textbook method; going back an edition or two can take textbooks from overpriced to downright cheap. The Dynamics of Folklore will run you less than ten dollars.

That's a really excellent suggestion, I'll pick up the ebook.


Whatís the difference? Different terms for the same thing, although I can understand wanting to avoid the baggage associated with the term and wanting to make having multiple more explicitly okay.

OP, color me interested; a lot of RPGs try various ways to make their renditions of archetypes different. Seeing an authentically different set of archetypes would be cool.

Glad to hear you're interested, hopefully the final product warrants it.


For Narrative roles, and how the character is remembered... Maybe try looking at specifically the Trope of the Five-man Band (See TvTropes for that one), how it is implemented/transposed onto different kinds of media, what additional roles there are surrounding it (Sixth ranger; or the extension to the Seven Samurai Setup, for example), etc.
There is quite an amount of freedom in each role, but they also carry quite clear meaning - most people familiar with the trope, will sort the same five-man group the same way; but a character might work in different roles in different teams, even without changing themselves.

I have noticed that even though I tend to play with 5-player groups, RPG groups tend to fit the pattern much more vaguely than groups from other media (But that might just be my games); but maybe that is a reason FOR implementing a system "enforcing" sticking to it, rather than a reason against.
(It would have the added bonus of not straining simulationist concerns that much - it is, after all, an outside projection onto your group of heroes, not the truth of them. That projection might well give them certain abilites - either to interact with the world (Being know as a Smart guy might get you into libraries faster than being know as a Tough guy, no matter your actual intelligence); or by having people's belief about you shape your powers in some bit (Which would have to be represented setting-wise, of course), in a lower-powered mirror of the "Gods get powers from belief" trope.

I'm a little resistant to Five-Man Band due to the fact that it quickly falls apart if there's fewer than five players, and ideally the system could support 1-6ish. I definitely have been toying with the idea of abilities based on projection or even just inherent to the archetypes, working with a sort of apocalypse world style question thing (players can ask GM certain number of questions about specific subjects based on a stat) but that's all still very much in the air.

NovenFromTheSun
2017-11-03, 12:54 AM
Things to consider are what's possible in your world and how character advancement works. If, for instance you want a world where people can learn both fighting and spellcasting: 1) if archetype is a big one time decision then there'll need to be one for that but 2) if there smaller packets of skills that players pick multiple times then they can be more separated.

Other than that, one possibility for classes is how they approach problems. Do they try to go through obstacles, around them, or change them to no longer be obstacles? Now, no one does one of them in all situations, but bear with me; I'll figure out what my point is in a moment.

Out of those three possibilities, one could probably think of different types of characters and how their approach affects different aspects of them. And for these characters there are different kinds of players that would like them. So if I have a point it's that when designing a class or archetype think of what kind of person those characters would appeal to and why; especially seeing how you seem to be going for something that mixes class archetypes with those from stories.

Knaight
2017-11-03, 02:31 AM
I'm a little resistant to Five-Man Band due to the fact that it quickly falls apart if there's fewer than five players, and ideally the system could support 1-6ish. I definitely have been toying with the idea of abilities based on projection or even just inherent to the archetypes, working with a sort of apocalypse world style question thing (players can ask GM certain number of questions about specific subjects based on a stat) but that's all still very much in the air.

There are some group archetypes still worth exploring - the Five-Man Band is one, but it's between two people that the options really explode. Masters and apprentices, partners, lovers, foils, the list goes on.

Anonymouswizard
2017-11-03, 05:27 AM
Yeah archetypes are hard, especially if you're trying to not follow the D&D model and have them be separate from what characters are good at, like I'm doing with my game (I've got archetypes giving a bonus to Health and a single feature, but competence is measured by skills).

I'll be following this thread, although I'm leaning more towards story and world archetypes than group dynamics or personality archetypes (and science fiction archetypes at that). One of the available archetypes is the Corporate, for people relatively high ranking in a corporation and able to pull extra resources.

Floret
2017-11-03, 06:35 AM
I'm a little resistant to Five-Man Band due to the fact that it quickly falls apart if there's fewer than five players, and ideally the system could support 1-6ish. I definitely have been toying with the idea of abilities based on projection or even just inherent to the archetypes, working with a sort of apocalypse world style question thing (players can ask GM certain number of questions about specific subjects based on a stat) but that's all still very much in the air.

Fair. (Though, 1-6? Most RPGs only go down to 3... You got your work cut out for you.)
I think an issue with trying to create roles independent of party size is, however, that what narrative role a character fullfills is somewhat dependent on how they play off of other characters - Zuko from Avatar would make a fine Leader in some stories, but in the story given, he's a Lancer no questions asked. (And Last Airbender a prime example of an utterly obvious FMB). And while "How to be remembered" is certainly distinct from it, it is similar enough that I'd think some of these tropes to be still possible to work.
For a quick thought experiment (And because I have the time), let's take the roles and try to expand them and contract them:

Leader - Proactive, leading, commanding. If by example, if reluctantly, if intentionally - all of that is optional, and part of the freedom of the role. "Mastermind"; "Headstrong"; "Charismatic" and "Levelheaded" are the four examples TvTropes explicitly gives
Lancer - A contrast to the leader. Possibly joining later; a reformed villain will most likely slot in here if they upgrade the band to Five.
Smart Guy - Well, intelligent character. Possibly Nerdy, possibly wizard, possibly gadgeteer, possibly strategist.
Tough Guy - Strongman-type. "The big guns". Going back to Avatar, Toph is one of the more unusual ways to fill the role, but perfectly obvious that she does.
Heart (Aka. The point where I refuse to call this role "the chick" and to discard the FMB-trope just because this is filled by a guy; if the rest fits) - The calm center of the group, holding the other's together, managing the spikes of contrasting personalities.

Now, what we see immediately is that three of those just plain don't work (their current way) without a party. The Lancer is not a role for a single character, as it is dependent on being a contrast to the leader, the heart is dependent on being the glue that hold the rest together. If there is no rest, no heart.
If we stretch the definitions, though, the Lancer might work down to two people - contrasting with the last character present. And the heart might work down to three, as long as two characters butting heads are present, the third can work to balance them out.
The Leader... Well, by definition he has to lead something. Though all four "classical" ways to fill the role could work as different ways to go about heroing, too. So, a tentative maybe; if we don't focus too much on the leading aspect of the Leader.
Smart and Tough characters are always present. I think being remembered as a Genius or as the Strongest Woman on Earth might work well even as a solo career.

So even with this model, going down in number will, eventually, cut off archetypes, and restrict options. Sure. But it doesn't get unworkable.

With one character; you might choose between: Leader (Really needs a different name. Or maybe not, being a leader of NPC forces, possibly as an inspiring figure more than a battlefield commander, possibly not.); Smart Guy and Tough Guy (...Also needs a different, gender-neutral term; though anything I can think of leaves it somewhat without the Punch. Smart one and Tough one?).
With two characters; the Lancer joins as an option (If the other person is playing a "Leader", at least. A contrast to a Smart/Tough character might well just be the other of those two, but I'd at least test if "Lancer to Smart Guy" might not work in some way without becoming a Tough Guy.).
With three, the Heart is up for grabs; and all Five roles might work. Not directly as what their part in the FMB tends to look like, but I could see something very similar working out in every case. (Leader/Lancer/Heart being the obvious trio, of course; but I can see the appeal for other sets of three)
For four and five people, everything works out even better. (To take Avatar again: I think their eventual roles in the FMB were somewhat fixed and present, even without their Lancer; so I'd argue for the FMB-tropes having a good chance of working, at least in a narrative, without actually being five people.)

But, now we got a problem. Going up to six would require doubling a role - and I don't think that would work too well (Something to be considered, of course; all of these roles require every player to choose differently. Since such a game would probably need a session 0 and collective character-building (Always nice to not have two that do the exact same things), that might well work anyways - and even be good for the kind of thing you are attempting, if I understand you right.)

TvTropes talks about the usual expanding being the Sixth Ranger/Token Evil Teammate. Especially the latter might work well even as a choice within a smaller framework (The former not so much; "joining the group later, being a reformed antagonist" is somewhat of a workable thing; but it doesn't really inform much beyond that.). However, there is another "larger party" trope to consider - the Magnificent Seven Samurai. Which has many of the FMB-roles as a basis, but basically expands it up to seven.
With that, we also get:
The Old Guy - Basically, the Mentor joined the team in their fight. Might work.
The Young Guy - Audience surrogate new-to the party. Young, inexperienced, tagging along with more beginner's luck than anything substancial. Would get somewhat difficult to work in, I'd think - the role of audience surrogate is relatively central; and that is not something that works in Games - or at least not TRPGs.
and The Funny Guy - Somewhat detached, mostly there for the jokes. I'd avoid that for an RPG character, this can get grating very fast (Having a character whose JOB it is to be Funny would be... I mean, it can work, probably? But I'd think it best be avoided.)
(For protocol, The Heart is what leaves; being somewhat present in the Young Guy as "target of protection" by the other's.)

This would leave us with two more options for roles on a somewhat similar standing - a Mentor; and a Token Evil Teammate. Getting us up to seven roles - enough to fill all six of your intended maximum party, and still have choice even then. As for how well they work scaling down... TET might get overlap with the Lancer in smaller parties, but I think that can be worked around by requiring the Lancer still generally at least morally neutral, and otherwise the character simply being a TET (If the whole thing is based on outside perception, even in-world, I think this can be worked). Other than that; I think he only really falls apart if he is the only one left; being less of a TET and more of a maybe (anti)villain protagonist.
The Mentor of course would need someone to mentor. Not a solo role, and even moreso.

...Brainstorm over. I think it could work as a framework for something; but have honestly little idea how well it fits with what you actually want. Take it, if you want, leave it, if not, I had fun going through that.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-03, 06:57 AM
Whatís the difference? Different terms for the same thing, although I can understand wanting to avoid the baggage associated with the term and wanting to make having multiple more explicitly okay.


To me at least...

A Class implies an exclusive set of abilities that are denied to characters of other classes, restrictions or penalties on which skills etc are available, a fixed degree of combat skill relative to other Classes, and so on.

A training or education or background Package implies a set of skills and perks reflecting part of the character's background. Abilities are not set in stone or exclusive, and combat skill is dependent on other factors.

2D8HP
2017-11-03, 07:06 AM
I've recently been dabbling in game design....
....Jungian. ..


Yet another FRPG?

Okay, but I know nothin' 'bout Jung though, so this is just 'bout my taste, dig?

I'd enjoy playing characters similar to Robin Hood (or most any character portrayed by Errol Flynn), Sinbad, Indiana Jones, Tonto, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser from fiction, and as long as my PC's may sometimes (non-magically)

Fire arrows

Swing swords

Track

Sneak

Hide

Climb

Swim

Convince,

Run,

Walk,

Speak,

and

Heal

I'm good.

Otherwise unless the rules are close to the 1970's D&D or RuneQuest derived rules that I'm familiar with, I have difficulty learning them if they're too complex, and I definitely place "D20/3.x D&D/Pathfinder" in the category of too complex for me.

I enjoy playing 5e D&D but most of the classes have too many mechanics for me to keep track of especially at high levels, and I quickly get "options fatigue" (I almost exclusively play Champion Fighters and Rogues in that system).

Old D&D characters feel too fragile to me, I enjoy the 21st century' novelty of having new characters that mostly survive gaming sessions, high-level D&D PC's feel too powerful and "comic book" to me.

Naruto and Bleach like characters are what I don't want to play.

I no longer much enjoy the "mini-game" of character creation which in most RPG's takes far too long for my tastes, please give me the option to avoid most of that.

In fact just give me pre-gens of PC's I'd want to play, that I may copy and paste.

If I had my way as a player, my "character sheet" wouldn't have any "stats" for me to keep track of, just personal info and what's in their pockets, I don't even want to know what a "modifier" is, just what my PC perceives.

As a GM? Minimize any time I'd have to spend searching for rules.

An enticing adventure is paramount.

What first got me hooked on RPG's was this set-up:

100 years ago the sorcerer Zenopus built a tower on the low hills overlooking Portown. The tower was close to the sea cliffs west of the town and, appropriately, next door to the graveyard.
Rumor has it that the magician made extensive cellars and tunnels underneath the tower. The town is located on the ruins of a much older city of doubtful history and Zenopus was said to excavate in his cellars in search of ancient treasures.

Fifty years ago, on a cold wintry night, the wizard's tower was suddenly engulfed in green flame. Several of his human servants escaped the holocaust, saying their rnaster had been destroyed by some powerful force he had unleashed in the depths of the tower.
Needless to say the tower stood vacant fora while afterthis, but then the neighbors and the night watchmen comploined that ghostly blue lights appeared in the windows at night, that ghastly screams could be heard emanating from the tower ot all hours, and goblin figures could be seen dancina on the tower roof in the moonlight. Finally the authorities had a catapult rolled through the streets of the town and the tower was battered to rubble. This stopped the hauntings but the townsfolk continue to shun the ruins. The entrance to the old dungeons can be easily located as a flight of broad stone steps leading down into darkness, but the few adventurous souls who hove descended into crypts below the ruin have either reported only empty stone corridors or have failed to return at all.
Other magic-users have moved into the town but the site of the old tower remains abandoned.
Whispered tales are told of fabulous treasure and unspeakable monsters in the underground passages below the hilltop, and the story tellers are always careful to point out that the reputed dungeons lie in close proximity to the foundations of the older, pre-human city, to the graveyard, and to the sea.
Portown is a small but busy city 'linking the caravan routes from the south to the merchscant ships that dare the pirate-infested waters of the Northern Sea. Humans and non-humans from all over the globe meet here.
At he Green Dragon Inn, the players of the game gather their characters for an assault on the fabulous passages beneath the ruined Wizard's tower.

:biggrin:

None better for me, even after 39 years!


I hate looking up any rules, and if I have to look up a "stat" on my character sheet that breaks immersion, and I dislike it.

My favorite setting genre's are (in order):
1) Swords and Sorcery
2) Swashbuckling
3) Arthurian
4) Gaslamp Fantasy
5) Planetary Romance
6) Steampunk
7) Raygun Gothic
8) Viking

My least favorite genres are:
1) Modern-day anything
2) Dystopian Near Future
3) Dystopian Far Future

What I like/want:
1) Exploring a fantastic world.
Playing a superpowered PC in a mostly mundane world leaves me cold (I didn't like Villains and Vigilantes, Champions, Cyberpunk, or Vampire).

2) Reasonably quick character creation without giving me options fatigue (GURPS and HERO, and a little bit in early D&D with initial equipment shopping).

3) The fantastic world should not be too surreal or seem like a cruel joke (Paranoia,Toon).

4) Random character creation should not result in widely disparate starting power levels (Runequest, Stormbringer, and sometimes rolling for HP or starting gold in old D&D).

5) Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Robin Hood, the Seven Samurai, and Sinbad?: Yes!

6) Avengers, James Bond, and the X-Men?: Eh nah.

7) Swashbuckling? Yes!

8) Steampunk/Gaslight Fantasy? Sure.

9) Space Opera? Sometimes.

10) Time Travel/Alternate realities (Sliders)?: I'm intrigued.

11) Dark Future?: :yuk: seldom.
(though I did have some fun playing a few sessions of Shadowrun but I never bought the rules!)

12) Archers, Dragons, Knights, Magic, Pirates, and Swords: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!, and Yes!

13) Lots of dice rolling!
No I don't want to necessarily know why, I just like the sound, the feel, and most of all the suspense!

14) The rulebook should provide a template for character creation, as I find a catalog better sparks my imagination than a blank page.

Aftet character creation I'm fine with "rules" like this:

1) GM describes a scene.
2) Player says an action that their PC attempts.
3) GM decides if the PC has no chance of success, no chance of failure, or a partial chance of success.
4) If a partial chance of success, GM makes up on the spot a percentage chance of success.
5) Player rolls dice.
6) GM narrates the immediate consequences until it's time to again ask, "what do you do".
7) Repeat.

Frozen_Feet
2017-11-03, 07:59 AM
My gut instinct is that trying to base archetypes off personality is not the way to go.

I'm off the exact opposite opinion.

If you want to have archetypes but don't want to pigeonhole characters mechanically, have players pick one personality archetype, for example, one of 16 MBTI types. Have assignment of skills etc. mechanical abilities be entirely independent of this. Let the players choose those based on their interpretation of the personality.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-03, 08:33 AM
I'm off the exact opposite opinion.

If you want to have archetypes but don't want to pigeonhole characters mechanically, have players pick one personality archetype, for example, one of 16 MBTI types. Have assignment of skills etc. mechanical abilities be entirely independent of this. Let the players choose those based on their interpretation of the personality.

MBTI (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/the-myers-briggs-personality-test-is-pretty-much-meaningless-9359770/)? Please no (https://thoughtcatalog.com/daniel-hayes/2015/07/myers-briggs-nonsense/).

D20ragon
2017-11-03, 08:39 AM
There are some group archetypes still worth exploring - the Five-Man Band is one, but it's between two people that the options really explode. Masters and apprentices, partners, lovers, foils, the list goes on.

That's the good stuff right there, I agree. Not nearly enough games explore what's really interesting to me about group dynamics in literature.


Fair. (Though, 1-6? Most RPGs only go down to 3... You got your work cut out for you.)
I think an issue with trying to create roles independent of party size is, however, that what narrative role a character fullfills is somewhat dependent on how they play off of other characters - Zuko from Avatar would make a fine Leader in some stories, but in the story given, he's a Lancer no questions asked. (And Last Airbender a prime example of an utterly obvious FMB). And while "How to be remembered" is certainly distinct from it, it is similar enough that I'd think some of these tropes to be still possible to work.
For a quick thought experiment (And because I have the time), let's take the roles and try to expand them and contract them:

Leader - Proactive, leading, commanding. If by example, if reluctantly, if intentionally - all of that is optional, and part of the freedom of the role. "Mastermind"; "Headstrong"; "Charismatic" and "Levelheaded" are the four examples TvTropes explicitly gives
Lancer - A contrast to the leader. Possibly joining later; a reformed villain will most likely slot in here if they upgrade the band to Five.
Smart Guy - Well, intelligent character. Possibly Nerdy, possibly wizard, possibly gadgeteer, possibly strategist.
Tough Guy - Strongman-type. "The big guns". Going back to Avatar, Toph is one of the more unusual ways to fill the role, but perfectly obvious that she does.
Heart (Aka. The point where I refuse to call this role "the chick" and to discard the FMB-trope just because this is filled by a guy; if the rest fits) - The calm center of the group, holding the other's together, managing the spikes of contrasting personalities.

Now, what we see immediately is that three of those just plain don't work (their current way) without a party. The Lancer is not a role for a single character, as it is dependent on being a contrast to the leader, the heart is dependent on being the glue that hold the rest together. If there is no rest, no heart.
If we stretch the definitions, though, the Lancer might work down to two people - contrasting with the last character present. And the heart might work down to three, as long as two characters butting heads are present, the third can work to balance them out.
The Leader... Well, by definition he has to lead something. Though all four "classical" ways to fill the role could work as different ways to go about heroing, too. So, a tentative maybe; if we don't focus too much on the leading aspect of the Leader.
Smart and Tough characters are always present. I think being remembered as a Genius or as the Strongest Woman on Earth might work well even as a solo career.

So even with this model, going down in number will, eventually, cut off archetypes, and restrict options. Sure. But it doesn't get unworkable.

With one character; you might choose between: Leader (Really needs a different name. Or maybe not, being a leader of NPC forces, possibly as an inspiring figure more than a battlefield commander, possibly not.); Smart Guy and Tough Guy (...Also needs a different, gender-neutral term; though anything I can think of leaves it somewhat without the Punch. Smart one and Tough one?).
With two characters; the Lancer joins as an option (If the other person is playing a "Leader", at least. A contrast to a Smart/Tough character might well just be the other of those two, but I'd at least test if "Lancer to Smart Guy" might not work in some way without becoming a Tough Guy.).
With three, the Heart is up for grabs; and all Five roles might work. Not directly as what their part in the FMB tends to look like, but I could see something very similar working out in every case. (Leader/Lancer/Heart being the obvious trio, of course; but I can see the appeal for other sets of three)
For four and five people, everything works out even better. (To take Avatar again: I think their eventual roles in the FMB were somewhat fixed and present, even without their Lancer; so I'd argue for the FMB-tropes having a good chance of working, at least in a narrative, without actually being five people.)

But, now we got a problem. Going up to six would require doubling a role - and I don't think that would work too well (Something to be considered, of course; all of these roles require every player to choose differently. Since such a game would probably need a session 0 and collective character-building (Always nice to not have two that do the exact same things), that might well work anyways - and even be good for the kind of thing you are attempting, if I understand you right.)

TvTropes talks about the usual expanding being the Sixth Ranger/Token Evil Teammate. Especially the latter might work well even as a choice within a smaller framework (The former not so much; "joining the group later, being a reformed antagonist" is somewhat of a workable thing; but it doesn't really inform much beyond that.). However, there is another "larger party" trope to consider - the Magnificent Seven Samurai. Which has many of the FMB-roles as a basis, but basically expands it up to seven.
With that, we also get:
The Old Guy - Basically, the Mentor joined the team in their fight. Might work.
The Young Guy - Audience surrogate new-to the party. Young, inexperienced, tagging along with more beginner's luck than anything substancial. Would get somewhat difficult to work in, I'd think - the role of audience surrogate is relatively central; and that is not something that works in Games - or at least not TRPGs.
and The Funny Guy - Somewhat detached, mostly there for the jokes. I'd avoid that for an RPG character, this can get grating very fast (Having a character whose JOB it is to be Funny would be... I mean, it can work, probably? But I'd think it best be avoided.)
(For protocol, The Heart is what leaves; being somewhat present in the Young Guy as "target of protection" by the other's.)

This would leave us with two more options for roles on a somewhat similar standing - a Mentor; and a Token Evil Teammate. Getting us up to seven roles - enough to fill all six of your intended maximum party, and still have choice even then. As for how well they work scaling down... TET might get overlap with the Lancer in smaller parties, but I think that can be worked around by requiring the Lancer still generally at least morally neutral, and otherwise the character simply being a TET (If the whole thing is based on outside perception, even in-world, I think this can be worked). Other than that; I think he only really falls apart if he is the only one left; being less of a TET and more of a maybe (anti)villain protagonist.
The Mentor of course would need someone to mentor. Not a solo role, and even moreso.

...Brainstorm over. I think it could work as a framework for something; but have honestly little idea how well it fits with what you actually want. Take it, if you want, leave it, if not, I had fun going through that.

Huh... I like it. I don't know how well it fits into what is tentatively forming in my mind, but I can see it being incorporated... given me some things to think about for sure. For example, what about party roles in addition to roles within the fiction? Don't know if that works, easily could overload a PC.


Yet another FRPG?

Okay, but I know nothin' 'bout Jung though, so this is just 'bout my taste, dig?

I'd enjoy playing characters similar to Robin Hood (or most any character portrayed by Errol Flynn), Sinbad, Indiana Jones, Tonto, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser from fiction, and as long as my PC's may sometimes (non-magically)

Fire arrows

Swing swords

Track

Sneak

Hide

Climb

Swim

Convince,

Run,

Walk,

Speak,

and

Heal

I'm good.

Otherwise unless the rules are close to the 1970's D&D or RuneQuest derived rules that I'm familiar with, I have difficulty learning them if they're too complex, and I definitely place "D20/3.x D&D/Pathfinder" in the category of too complex for me.

I enjoy playing 5e D&D but most of the classes have too many mechanics for me to keep track of especially at high levels, and I quickly get "options fatigue" (I almost exclusively play Champion Fighters and Rogues in that system).

Old D&D characters feel too fragile to me, I enjoy the 21st century' novelty of having new characters that mostly survive gaming sessions, high-level D&D PC's feel too powerful and "comic book" to me.

Naruto and Bleach like characters are what I don't want to play.

I no longer much enjoy the "mini-game" of character creation which in most RPG's takes far too long for my tastes, please give me the option to avoid most of that.

In fact just give me pre-gens of PC's I'd want to play, that I may copy and paste.

If I had my way as a player, my "character sheet" wouldn't have any "stats" for me to keep track of, just personal info and what's in their pockets, I don't even want to know what a "modifier" is, just what my PC perceives.

As a GM? Minimize any time I'd have to spend searching for rules.

An enticing adventure is paramount.

What first got me hooked on RPG's was this set-up:

100 years ago the sorcerer Zenopus built a tower on the low hills overlooking Portown. The tower was close to the sea cliffs west of the town and, appropriately, next door to the graveyard.
Rumor has it that the magician made extensive cellars and tunnels underneath the tower. The town is located on the ruins of a much older city of doubtful history and Zenopus was said to excavate in his cellars in search of ancient treasures.

Fifty years ago, on a cold wintry night, the wizard's tower was suddenly engulfed in green flame. Several of his human servants escaped the holocaust, saying their rnaster had been destroyed by some powerful force he had unleashed in the depths of the tower.
Needless to say the tower stood vacant fora while afterthis, but then the neighbors and the night watchmen comploined that ghostly blue lights appeared in the windows at night, that ghastly screams could be heard emanating from the tower ot all hours, and goblin figures could be seen dancina on the tower roof in the moonlight. Finally the authorities had a catapult rolled through the streets of the town and the tower was battered to rubble. This stopped the hauntings but the townsfolk continue to shun the ruins. The entrance to the old dungeons can be easily located as a flight of broad stone steps leading down into darkness, but the few adventurous souls who hove descended into crypts below the ruin have either reported only empty stone corridors or have failed to return at all.
Other magic-users have moved into the town but the site of the old tower remains abandoned.
Whispered tales are told of fabulous treasure and unspeakable monsters in the underground passages below the hilltop, and the story tellers are always careful to point out that the reputed dungeons lie in close proximity to the foundations of the older, pre-human city, to the graveyard, and to the sea.
Portown is a small but busy city 'linking the caravan routes from the south to the merchscant ships that dare the pirate-infested waters of the Northern Sea. Humans and non-humans from all over the globe meet here.
At he Green Dragon Inn, the players of the game gather their characters for an assault on the fabulous passages beneath the ruined Wizard's tower.

:biggrin:

None better for me, even after 39 years!


I hate looking up any rules, and if I have to look up a "stat" on my character sheet that breaks immersion, and I dislike it.

My favorite setting genre's are (in order):
1) Swords and Sorcery
2) Swashbuckling
3) Arthurian
4) Gaslamp Fantasy
5) Planetary Romance
6) Steampunk
7) Raygun Gothic
8) Viking

My least favorite genres are:
1) Modern-day anything
2) Dystopian Near Future
3) Dystopian Far Future

What I like/want:
1) Exploring a fantastic world.
Playing a superpowered PC in a mostly mundane world leaves me cold (I didn't like Villains and Vigilantes, Champions, Cyberpunk, or Vampire).

2) Reasonably quick character creation without giving me options fatigue (GURPS and HERO, and a little bit in early D&D with initial equipment shopping).

3) The fantastic world should not be too surreal or seem like a cruel joke (Paranoia,Toon).

4) Random character creation should not result in widely disparate starting power levels (Runequest, Stormbringer, and sometimes rolling for HP or starting gold in old D&D).

5) Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Robin Hood, the Seven Samurai, and Sinbad?: Yes!

6) Avengers, James Bond, and the X-Men?: Eh nah.

7) Swashbuckling? Yes!

8) Steampunk/Gaslight Fantasy? Sure.

9) Space Opera? Sometimes.

10) Time Travel/Alternate realities (Sliders)?: I'm intrigued.

11) Dark Future?: :yuk: seldom.
(though I did have some fun playing a few sessions of Shadowrun but I never bought the rules!)

12) Archers, Dragons, Knights, Magic, Pirates, and Swords: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!, and Yes!

13) Lots of dice rolling!
No I don't want to necessarily know why, I just like the sound, the feel, and most of all the suspense!

14) The rulebook should provide a template for character creation, as I find a catalog better sparks my imagination than a blank page.

Aftet character creation I'm fine with "rules" like this:

1) GM describes a scene.
2) Player says an action that their PC attempts.
3) GM decides if the PC has no chance of success, no chance of failure, or a partial chance of success.
4) If a partial chance of success, GM makes up on the spot a percentage chance of success.
5) Player rolls dice.
6) GM narrates the immediate consequences until it's time to again ask, "what do you do".
7) Repeat.

Well, I can't deny that we enjoy a lot of the same things, but my ideas about this game kind of diverge from the extremely rules light. I'm trying to find the proper grey area between rules light and heavy, because my brain often has trouble with the sheer vagueness of rules light games sometimes (please don't bother defending rules light games to me, there's quite a few that I love dearly, I'm simply not looking for that in my game) but I also tend to hate having to memorize/look up things constantly as it impedes the flow of the narrative.


I'm off the exact opposite opinion.

If you want to have archetypes but don't want to pigeonhole characters mechanically, have players pick one personality archetype, for example, one of 16 MBTI types. Have assignment of skills etc. mechanical abilities be entirely independent of this. Let the players choose those based on their interpretation of the personality.

My only reservation is I'd rather the players narrative be reflected in the mechanics of the game rather than the games mechanics dictating how they play their character. To that end, I was considering the archetypes as spheres thing, where having a score of x in x archetype gives you access to such and such, but also means you cleave more closely to that archetype. Scores would fluctuate based on player action. Something else I'm considering with this whole "archetypes as stats thing" is having a low score be bad for obvious mechanical reasons, but having a high score also being dangerous. For example, a character with astronomical, let's say, Trickster, would have an increasingly difficult trusting people, could find that the throwaway alibis they toss out have an uncanny way of coming true ("There's no way I stole from you, I was at the bar the entire night" leads to the character walking into the bar and being cheered by the group he apparently spent the night buying drinks for), etc. Bad stuff with this is that it punishes players who do want to go with only one archetype, but maybe that's okay? This idea was lifted from the dev blogs for No Truce With the Furies, a game in development that I've got a keen interest in. Of course, their game is explicitly about a characters failings, so it's an excellent fit for them, but having quirks/problems associated with high stats also makes sense to me.

Something else that I recently realized could be helpful to this discussion is the fact that I'm very interested in how emergent storytelling could be mechanically enabled in a game. Emergent storytelling seems out of place in an rpg to a degree, especially a narrative or explicitly literary one, as the GM is directly responsible for actually putting into motion a story that everyone has the stated intent of telling together, but I think it could have its place. Partially through, as I said, quirks that alter gameplay and narrative the higher certain "stats" are, but also through the scar system that I talked about in my other thread about health systems. Essentially, something has bothered me about quite a few games is that, mechanically, consequences of combat only matter insofar as combat is concerned (this is very broad statement, and yes, I'm aware of numerous exceptions, but it's something I'll stick by). By having major wounds inflict scars that can either cripple (traumatize or in some way permanently weaken a character) or harden (inure them to violence, humiliation etc to the point of killing emotion) a character, I aim to toss something else into the mix that can cause characters and their archetypes to become extremely unexpected. My players have no problem with roleplaying mechanical afflictions as long as they're justified, but I'm aware that some people won't like it much to have their brute of a man-eating ogre-slaying juggernaut become afraid to show his face in public after a particularly awful comment about his broken nose. Of course, I plan for there to be ways for players to become better at resisting scars, etc, so it should still be possible to craft an increasingly untouchable character if that's really what you want. Scars are just one small example of a system that could lead to the narrative taking unexpected turns driven by mechanics, so other suggestions are of course welcomed along with questions and critiques.

EDIT:
MBTI (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/the-myers-briggs-personality-test-is-pretty-much-meaningless-9359770/)? Please no (https://thoughtcatalog.com/daniel-hayes/2015/07/myers-briggs-nonsense/).

I mean, I also agree that Myers-Briggs is essentially meaningless, but keep in mind we are talking about developing a literary, narrative experience, not a simulationist one. Things that don't mean much in regards to actual humans (folktale archetypes for example) can still be meaningful to fictional characters, especially as far summing up a character on a character sheet goes. Not saying that I'll use Myers-Briggs, just that I'm not going to throw things out based on their incompatibility with reality. So long as it's consistent within the game, I've got no issue with a game where everyone in the world can be expressed as a combination of tarot cards, personality types, etc.

exelsisxax
2017-11-03, 09:07 AM
I have even less of an idea what you are going for now.

You've said both that you don't want to limit player creativity in characters to enable a large variety of story types/narrative/groups, AND say that conflict with the character's archetype(s) is a critical point of the game. You absolutely cannot do this unless you custom-build every single character with a unique archetype. There'd be no point creating the system at all with all the design work you'd have to do for every single game.

You're all over the place with the 'archetypes' being mechanical, fictional, or mixed constructs. This is a really big deal but you seem to be agreeing with people arguing from each group.

I saw your health system thread, and with your expanded plans for it, it's so much better in every way than fiction-based archetypes - if that's what your goal really is.

Regarding emergent storytelling: this is what happens in every non-railroad game. It is NOT out of place in a TTRPG, it is the exclusive and sole property of TTRPGs and immediate offshoots. This is literally the only type of media capable of generating it. If you want emergent story, DON'T use archetypes, they are straitjackets. The whole scars thing is far better.

Airk
2017-11-03, 09:12 AM
Regarding emergent storytelling: this is what happens in every non-railroad game. It is NOT out of place in a TTRPG, it is the exclusive and sole property of TTRPGs and immediate offshoots. This is literally the only type of media capable of generating it. If you want emergent story, DON'T use archetypes, they are straitjackets. The whole scars thing is far better.

I was with you right up until that 2nd to last sentence, where you just went off the deep end. These two things are completely unrelated. Emergent storytelling, as you say, WILL HAPPEN. It's pretty much impossible to stop it at some level. But there is nothing "straightjacket" about an archetype - unless you think that any kind of descriptive adjective is a straightjacket. No one imagines a conversation that goes like this: "My character is honest and straightforward!" "oooh! Straightjacket! Now you have to tell the truth ALL THE TIME!" So why do people think that archetypes are straightjackets and binding and restrictive? They are adjectives and categories. Nothing more. People need to get over their hangups about this stuff.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-03, 09:24 AM
I was with you right up until that 2nd to last sentence, where you just went off the deep end. These two things are completely unrelated. Emergent storytelling, as you say, WILL HAPPEN. It's pretty much impossible to stop it at some level. But there is nothing "straightjacket" about an archetype - unless you think that any kind of descriptive adjective is a straightjacket. No one imagines a conversation that goes like this: "My character is honest and straightforward!" "oooh! Straightjacket! Now you have to tell the truth ALL THE TIME!" So why do people think that archetypes are straightjackets and binding and restrictive? They are adjectives and categories. Nothing more. People need to get over their hangups about this stuff.

Not really.

Look at the way archetypes, character-type tropes, and personality "classifications" are usually used, both in fiction and in real life. Or even the way the siblings in a family get pigeonholed. There are reasons that some people are sick of the "archetypes" nonsense.

There's a HUGE difference between saying "X is smart" or saying "X is The Smart One".

Floret
2017-11-03, 10:36 AM
That's the good stuff right there, I agree. Not nearly enough games explore what's really interesting to me about group dynamics in literature.

I think if you want the game to explore that, it would indeed be the right way to somehow enforce certain narrative/party roles - otherwise, any exploration you can get will be incidental.


Huh... I like it. I don't know how well it fits into what is tentatively forming in my mind, but I can see it being incorporated... given me some things to think about for sure. For example, what about party roles in addition to roles within the fiction? Don't know if that works, easily could overload a PC.

Thanks^^
I think the problem with parting up "party role" and "fictional role" is that both overlap heavily (Or I am misunderstanding what you mean by any of those terms). Maybe that would be a good question: What, precisely, do you mean by "party role" and "fictional role"; where do you split the two, and would you be able to come up with a definition that doesn't split the members of the FMB between the two? (For a check to "how useful and clear can we make that distinction", if things that are usually clearly grouped together are suddenly split up, it might showcase a problem. Might.)


My only reservation is I'd rather the players narrative be reflected in the mechanics of the game rather than the games mechanics dictating how they play their character. To that end, I was considering the archetypes as spheres thing, where having a score of x in x archetype gives you access to such and such, but also means you cleave more closely to that archetype. Scores would fluctuate based on player action. Something else I'm considering with this whole "archetypes as stats thing" is having a low score be bad for obvious mechanical reasons, but having a high score also being dangerous. For example, a character with astronomical, let's say, Trickster, would have an increasingly difficult trusting people, could find that the throwaway alibis they toss out have an uncanny way of coming true ("There's no way I stole from you, I was at the bar the entire night" leads to the character walking into the bar and being cheered by the group he apparently spent the night buying drinks for), etc. Bad stuff with this is that it punishes players who do want to go with only one archetype, but maybe that's okay? This idea was lifted from the dev blogs for No Truce With the Furies, a game in development that I've got a keen interest in. Of course, their game is explicitly about a characters failings, so it's an excellent fit for them, but having quirks/problems associated with high stats also makes sense to me.

For this, I'd take a look at three things:
1. Modern Bioware games, and their inclusion of a morality slider, dependant on what kinds of actions you take going more or less into "good" or "evil" directions. It influences how NPCs react to you, and iirc also opens up some options.
2. In the same vein, Guild Wars 2's personality system, were it not now sort-of defunct. It tracks certain answers you give to NPCs that fall under one of three categories (Aside from totally neutral answers): Charming, Honorable, and Brute. The trick here is that you don't start in some undefined middle, as with Bioware; you select one of the three at character creation, and get 50 points in that, and 25 each in the other. Any answer you give gives you points for that stat - but reduces the others (equally), so that the result will always be three numbers that add up to 100. Out of the combinations then arose (Still arise, tbh, just hidden now) personality types - One for 50 in one of them (But both others sort of samey); One for having at least 75 in one; one for having 45 at least in two of them; and one final one for balancing it out. All of those sort of openend up more dialogue options, but the game never did much with this.
3. Legend of the Five Rings' Honor system (Though I can only speak to 4th edition), for how to implement such sliders in an RPG. Basically, a table, seeing what actions influence your honor in what way and strength, depending on how much you already have.
Keep in mind: This will all result in a lot of bookkeeping, and probably a lot of actions that would technically cause a blip on the meters not showing up.

So, what you could do (Just as an example, I will take the terms of the FMB for this. Will work with other terms as long as they share a category), is take your (Three, five; I wouldn't go higher) extremes - Those are the categories an action is measured by. Is this a Smart action? A strong action? A Leadership action, a heart action? Basically, what are the PURE archetypes, that aren't a mix of multiple others.
Then make a list of what actions would logically increase the character embodying that archetype - and points from what archetypes it would take, if there are some in those (So, choosing violence as an option would increase your "Strong one" archetype; and reduce some others - but probably the "Heart" archetype more than the "leader" archetype, if that makes any sense?)
Then think up some mixed archetypes. What if someone is mostly Strong, with a side order of heart? Or somewhat better rounded, but with a focus on smart?
And then, for added bonus, maybe the five/three types of action are also skilltrees, giving you more powers as you ascend them - with the archetypes (either pure or mixed) throwing in some special powers. (And possibly drawbacks.)

This might avoid the drawback you point out: Every archetype (Be it extreme or mixed) has some different drawbacks. Maybe being utterly reliant on strength makes people fear you, not want to talk to you, or attack you on sight - but being utterly mixed makes you bland, and forgettable, noone remembering your name.
...I am having too much fun with this; I should be working on other things (Including actually my own RPG building trials...)


Something else that I recently realized could be helpful to this discussion is the fact that I'm very interested in how emergent storytelling could be mechanically enabled in a game. Emergent storytelling seems out of place in an rpg to a degree, especially a narrative or explicitly literary one, as the GM is directly responsible for actually putting into motion a story that everyone has the stated intent of telling together, but I think it could have its place. Partially through, as I said, quirks that alter gameplay and narrative the higher certain "stats" are, but also through the scar system that I talked about in my other thread about health systems. Essentially, something has bothered me about quite a few games is that, mechanically, consequences of combat only matter insofar as combat is concerned (this is very broad statement, and yes, I'm aware of numerous exceptions, but it's something I'll stick by). By having major wounds inflict scars that can either cripple (traumatize or in some way permanently weaken a character) or harden (inure them to violence, humiliation etc to the point of killing emotion) a character, I aim to toss something else into the mix that can cause characters and their archetypes to become extremely unexpected. My players have no problem with roleplaying mechanical afflictions as long as they're justified, but I'm aware that some people won't like it much to have their brute of a man-eating ogre-slaying juggernaut become afraid to show his face in public after a particularly awful comment about his broken nose. Of course, I plan for there to be ways for players to become better at resisting scars, etc, so it should still be possible to craft an increasingly untouchable character if that's really what you want. Scars are just one small example of a system that could lead to the narrative taking unexpected turns driven by mechanics, so other suggestions are of course welcomed along with questions and critiques.

For the record, I don't think this in any way contradicts itself with having archetypes - neither the wound system, nor the emergent storytelling.
For this sort of emergent storytelling of the scars, you'll either need players that just go with it and don't ignore it (Technically, loosing essence in Shadowrun costs you humanity, and detaches you from society and caring for consequences. Yeah, I haven't seen it in play either, outside of one of my own characters (And there mostly accidentally)) - or give actual mechanics to it. For the weakening, that might be obvious, for the hardening... Well, forcing players to take certain actions is somewhat (and somewhat rightfully) frowned upon. But you might be served by a sort of Fate-point system - they get points if they act in line with their hardenings.
That might also serve well with another aspect of emergent storytelling that you have seen as problematic: The amount of GM control over the story. If such points are in the system, use them to have the players have more control over the narrative, similar maybe to FATE, or Shadowrun: Anarchy. Or maybe forego a GM entirely, having all players take turns describing the happenings (Though I'd probably keep the GM, and just reduce their power; with maybe strong tips or even rules to encourage "saying yes" - "I grab an axe from the chopping block outside the cabin" being countered not with "But I never said there was one" but rather "Sure, so what do you do with it?", maybe with the GM having to hand out points if they want to enforce that, no, there is no axe.)


Not really.

Look at the way archetypes, character-type tropes, and personality "classifications" are usually used, both in fiction and in real life. Or even the way the siblings in a family get pigeonholed. There are reasons that some people are sick of the "archetypes" nonsense.

There's a HUGE difference between saying "X is smart" or saying "X is The Smart One".

And there is still a difference between saying someone is "The smart one" and saying "They have to be smart all the time and always act like X".
Archetypes and tropes aren't straightjackets, they're descriptors. They say "This character mostly acts like that". A character won't loose their archetype being "Leader" if they defer to someone else's authority for a moment. A character won't loose being the "Heart" if they themselves lash out every once in a while. The smart one can be out of their depths every once in a while, or try to solve a problem by bashing the door in. You assign too much power to the concept of archetypes. I mean, sure, they can be used prescriptively, and that can yield bad consequences, but in and of themselves they aren't. Just a nice short-hand descriptor that can give a rough outline.
(As my ever-present favourite example, look at how Avatar deals with its Five Man Band, the way the characters all obviously fit their role without a shred of ambiguity - and all are still well-rounded characters, that can act against type without breaking it.)

There's also a reason people go for archetypes; and why people use TvTropes - humans like patterns. Sort things into patterns, constantly. And there is value to see how patterns can be interacted with. The fact that you hate them is alright, but that's just, like, your opinion, man. They aren't nonsense, they can just be misused. So can a frying pan, so can language, doesn't make any of those nonsense.
I think I can say one thing: The ideas being laid out here won't be for you. This won't be your cup of tea. Sure. But different strokes for different folks, and I think I could have fun with such a thing.

exelsisxax
2017-11-03, 11:03 AM
Floret, the problem isn't that the archetype isn't 100% always successfully in archetypal actions. It's that they end up being ONLY the archetype and can't ever branch out. The whole idea is begging to flanderize things as fast as possible, and because he wants mechanical enforcement it is forced flanderization.

I, and I suspect max, have no problem with characters not doing a thing they're big on. The problem is that this sort of mechanics and characterization ends up defining you as X, and only X. There is really no way of making this work unless the intent is to force a particular group dynamic(which the OP says he wants to get as far away from as possible).

If you don't mechanically distinguish them, they aren't part of the game.
If you only mechanically distinguish them, you get setting-mechanics dissonance and it's just a super generic class system, except your capabilities are defined by personality instead of rational explanations of aptitude or training.
If you don't meaningfully distinguish them(i.e. a skill-based game where every class has every skill at the same cost and no bonuses) they're bad design. Important features need to have important effects for whatever the core gameplay is.

Everything boils down to it being bad design from every angle.

Floret
2017-11-03, 11:39 AM
Floret, the problem isn't that the archetype isn't 100% always successfully in archetypal actions. It's that they end up being ONLY the archetype and can't ever branch out. The whole idea is begging to flanderize things as fast as possible, and because he wants mechanical enforcement it is forced flanderization.

I, and I suspect max, have no problem with characters not doing a thing they're big on. The problem is that this sort of mechanics and characterization ends up defining you as X, and only X. There is really no way of making this work unless the intent is to force a particular group dynamic(which the OP says he wants to get as far away from as possible).

If you don't mechanically distinguish them, they aren't part of the game.
If you only mechanically distinguish them, you get setting-mechanics dissonance and it's just a super generic class system, except your capabilities are defined by personality instead of rational explanations of aptitude or training.
If you don't meaningfully distinguish them(i.e. a skill-based game where every class has every skill at the same cost and no bonuses) they're bad design. Important features need to have important effects for whatever the core gameplay is.

Everything boils down to it being bad design from every angle.

1) Is it? Is it forced flanderization, if what he has written includes a) "I want characters to be able to strike a balance between different archetypes" (Treating the archetypes as spheres to invest in, rather than classes); b) has said "I want the narrative to inform the mechanics, not the other way round"; and c) has at least alluded to it being more "the world is magic and the perception people have of you shapes your powers" than any sort of "truth" about the character.

2) How is this defining you as "X and only X"? I'm genuinely curios, because I just don't see that... anywhere, neither in his nor in my own writing. Sure, be careful not to write it in, but simply having such a system (Especially in the sphere-like approach) doesn't actually dictate... anything, automatically? This reads a lot like a slippery slope fallacy to me currently.

3) My statements on archetypes were meant less as "Succeeding" at archetypical actions; but more about being able to choose actions deliberately against type. Apologies if that was not clear.
So, less a smart guy doing something stupid; and more something like the heart deliberately starting a fight because they finally snapped.

4) This isn't actually about personality in many of these posts. I mean, sure, Myers-Briggs (pretends) it is; but Narrative roles along the lines of the FMB... really aren't. Not even the heart, the one where this is strongest implied, who might just balance out the group not by being nice to everyone, but being the unifying "enemy". A classical Scorpion Clan character in L5R could fill that role (And indeed in our campaign does, if you fit the group onto the FMB), if that says anything to you. Or by simply being so naive everyone else can agree over protecting them, rather than by the heart doing any actual work.

5) Any setting-mechanics dissonace is dependant on the setting. If the world has some supernatural way to enforce these (Such as what people believe about you shaping what you are capable of), there need not be a dissonance. Classes aren't inherently dissonant with a setting, the setting just needs to be tailored in kind. (This is why I usually have an aversion to "Setting-agnostic" (They never really are...) game systems.)

6) One could mechanise it in a way that actual skills are point-buy, but certain special powers are unlocked by archetypes that can work with different skillsets.

exelsisxax
2017-11-03, 12:06 PM
1) Is it? Is it forced flanderization, if what he has written includes a) "I want characters to be able to strike a balance between different archetypes" (Treating the archetypes as spheres to invest in, rather than classes); b) has said "I want the narrative to inform the mechanics, not the other way round"; and c) has at least alluded to it being more "the world is magic and the perception people have of you shapes your powers" than any sort of "truth" about the character.

The Dragon is an archetype, there is no logical basis for proficiency in The Dragon. All of The Dragon's abilities are narrative causality and disregard setting premises. Brawler has a logical basis for proficiency, is not exclusive, but is wholly dissociated from personality, and is not an archetype. There's a big difference between them, but you're conflating them all the time.



2) How is this defining you as "X and only X"? I'm genuinely curios, because I just don't see that... anywhere, neither in his nor in my own writing. Sure, be careful not to write it in, but simply having such a system (Especially in the sphere-like approach) doesn't actually dictate... anything, automatically? This reads a lot like a slippery slope fallacy to me currently.

He is constantly saying he's going to mechanically enforce the archetypes. So yeah, if "honest" is your archetype, you will literally be confined by it in multiple ways and it will structure your interaction with gameplay(as i mentioned previously in the strong archetype differences).



3) My statements on archetypes were meant less as "Succeeding" at archetypical actions; but more about being able to choose actions deliberately against type. Apologies if that was not clear.
So, less a smart guy doing something stupid; and more something like the heart deliberately starting a fight because they finally snapped.

These are not mechanical distinctions. Nothing about archetypes creates interesting situations where they are defied. You either can't do the thing, so the archetype is confining, or you can do the thing, and the archetype doesn't matter in that instance. "I do something I would not normally do" is not actually a selling point of archetypes, they reduce that behavior. This is foolishly conflating roleplaying with mechanics.



4) This isn't actually about personality in many of these posts. I mean, sure, Myers-Briggs (pretends) it is; but Narrative roles along the lines of the FMB... really aren't. Not even the heart, the one where this is strongest implied, who might just balance out the group not by being nice to everyone, but being the unifying "enemy". A classical Scorpion Clan character in L5R could fill that role (And indeed in our campaign does, if you fit the group onto the FMB), if that says anything to you. Or by simply being so naive everyone else can agree over protecting them, rather than by the heart doing any actual work.

FBM is entirely separate from game mechanics. He's talking about game mechanics, so why are you bringing up the FMB? He's even mentioned that he doesn't like the idea of party roles. This is just worse because it pretends that personality maps to capabilities.



5) Any setting-mechanics dissonace is dependant on the setting. If the world has some supernatural way to enforce these (Such as what people believe about you shaping what you are capable of), there need not be a dissonance. Classes aren't inherently dissonant with a setting, the setting just needs to be tailored in kind. (This is why I usually have an aversion to "Setting-agnostic" (They never really are...) game systems.)

Yes, it is necessarily setting dissonant in literally every case excepting meta-settings where the archetypes exist as fabrications within a game. Archetypes would still be dissonant in perception-enforcement-land, because archetypes are not a characteristic your character possesses, but masks they can wear. The archetypes literally becoming true can't be the case in a game about the player characters.



6) One could mechanise it in a way that actual skills are point-buy, but certain special powers are unlocked by archetypes that can work with different skillsets.

So you halfway it and are only partially enforcing party roles while also halfway embracing personality as capabilities. What's the point of having archetypes if they barely make a difference in core gameplay? This sort of thing is why most class-based systems suck - everyone is trying to do the same thing in the end, just different, narrow variations on going about it(some of which end up being obviously better) and you can't do anything outside that narrow range.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-03, 12:10 PM
Floret, the problem isn't that the archetype isn't 100% always successfully in archetypal actions. It's that they end up being ONLY the archetype and can't ever branch out. The whole idea is begging to flanderize things as fast as possible, and because he wants mechanical enforcement it is forced flanderization.

I, and I suspect max, have no problem with characters not doing a thing they're big on. The problem is that this sort of mechanics and characterization ends up defining you as X, and only X. There is really no way of making this work unless the intent is to force a particular group dynamic(which the OP says he wants to get as far away from as possible).

If you don't mechanically distinguish them, they aren't part of the game.
If you only mechanically distinguish them, you get setting-mechanics dissonance and it's just a super generic class system, except your capabilities are defined by personality instead of rational explanations of aptitude or training.
If you don't meaningfully distinguish them(i.e. a skill-based game where every class has every skill at the same cost and no bonuses) they're bad design. Important features need to have important effects for whatever the core gameplay is.

Everything boils down to it being bad design from every angle.

On the bolded parts -- this is how it works out 99 times out of 100.

No matter how much it's asserted that archetypes etc are "descriptive", they quickly become prescriptive. It's rarely "here is this well rounded character and overall you could call him The Smart One" (which is bad enough), it's almost always "This character is The Smart One" and that's what defines and shapes that character. It's not descriptive, it's defining. It reduces that character to a single cardboard attribute, and it strongly implies that other characters can't be Smart without stepping on that character's toes... which also gets us into the whole "niche protection" quagmire and all the fiction-breaking / game-breaking baggage that comes with that.

Floret
2017-11-03, 12:34 PM
The Dragon is an archetype, there is no logical basis for proficiency in The Dragon. All of The Dragon's abilities are narrative causality and disregard setting premises. Brawler has a logical basis for proficiency, is not exclusive, but is wholly dissociated from personality, and is not an archetype. There's a big difference between them, but you're conflating them all the time.

1. I have not yet mentioned either The Dragon, nor the Brawler. Sure, they are both archetypes - much in that "The Id" from a Freudian Trio; and well as "The Paladin" might be archetypes. This is why I mentioned (Or thought I'd have mentioned) taking care to make sure the archetypes are actually from the same category of archetype - either all personality based, or team-function based, or skill-based; and not mix this.
2. "Being proficient in X" is a requirement you put there, and nothing I can find in D20ragon's posts. Something doesn't need to be a proficiency to be something that influences your character. My Dark Eye Blessed one of Efferd isn't "proficient" in her churches code of conduct, but it still influences her. In one game of FATE, a character had "My Father will hear about this" as their Concept-aspect. He wasn't proficient in "Having a rich and powerful dad", but it was still a power his character had, and could call upon. "Being something you could be proficient in" is not a necessary requirement for what is talked about.


He is constantly saying he's going to mechanically enforce the archetypes. So yeah, if "honest" is your archetype, you will literally be confined by it in multiple ways and it will structure your interaction with gameplay(as i mentioned previously in the strong archetype differences).

My only reservation is I'd rather the players narrative be reflected in the mechanics of the game rather than the games mechanics dictating how they play their character.

He isn't. And he hasn't said "Honest" is an archetype that will be present. The current stage is, as I understand it, what kinds of archetypes to go for; so "honest" might well make it in; but what he has described is that your character gains the archetype by being honest in-game; not choosing it beforehand; with switching archetypes being at the very least an implied possibility.


These are not mechanical distinctions. Nothing about archetypes creates interesting situations where they are defied. You either can't do the thing, so the archetype is confining, or you can do the thing, and the archetype doesn't matter in that instance. "I do something I would not normally do" is not actually a selling point of archetypes, they reduce that behavior. This is foolishly conflating roleplaying with mechanics.

It doesn't? Well, why not? "I do something I wouldn't normally do" might well start a journey of you changing your archetype. In a sphere system as I had understood (and suggested my own variant), it wouldn't kick you out immediately (No 3.5 Paladins here), but could start character development, that then would be reflected mechanically. I can see numerous ways how that could produce interesting gameplay.


FBM is entirely separate from game mechanics. He's talking about game mechanics, so why are you bringing up the FMB? He's even mentioned that he doesn't like the idea of party roles. This is just worse because it pretends that personality maps to capabilities.

It isn't as long as it is the thing being mechanised. I am talking about the Five Man Band as an example of how character archetypes can interact with each other; and provide a potential jumping-off point for the sort of mechanisation that is desired.
I also can't find an instance of him saying he doesn't like party roles, quite the opposite, actually. And no, the five man band only very indirectly deals with personality OR capabilities in the first place.


Yes, it is necessarily setting dissonant in literally every case excepting meta-settings where the archetypes exist as fabrications within a game. Archetypes would still be dissonant in perception-enforcement-land, because archetypes are not a characteristic your character possesses, but masks they can wear. The archetypes literally becoming true can't be the case in a game about the player characters.

Well... But that sort of meta-aspect is something that is potentially included, here? If the archetype is "What is the character going to be remembered for/as", and that has the power to influence their capabilites, we are automatically dealing with a setting that has some elements that might be called meta. And, no, they wouldn't, if "which of these categories other's sort me as gives me different powers" is something that is literally true within the setting, there is no dissonance. This isn't even about the archetypes becoming literally true.


So you halfway it and are only partially enforcing party roles while also halfway embracing personality as capabilities. What's the point of having archetypes if they barely make a difference in core gameplay? This sort of thing is why most class-based systems suck - everyone is trying to do the same thing in the end, just different, narrow variations on going about it(some of which end up being obviously better) and you can't do anything outside that narrow range.

You are assuming a whole lot of things that at least I didn't get out of his posts (and certainly didn't intend to say with mine):
1) As continued, the inability to change what your archetype is/How you are percieved
2) That the special abilities gained by the archetypes "barely make a difference"
3) That tying personality to capabilities in its entirety was ever part of the goal.
4) Somewhat that this is an either/or system - that you can either have classes/archetypes determine all your characters capabilities, or go full free-form. But it is, as you will no doubt agree, perfectly possible to have only parts of your character determined by a single choice, and the rest up for customization?


On the bolded parts -- this is how it works out 99 times out of 100.

No matter how much it's asserted that archetypes etc are "descriptive", they quickly become prescriptive. It's rarely "here is this well rounded character and overall you could call him The Smart One" (which is bad enough), it's almost always "This character is The Smart One" and that's what defines and shapes that character. It's not descriptive, it's defining. It reduces that character to a single cardboard attribute, and it strongly implies that other characters can't be Smart without stepping on that character's toes... which also gets us into the whole "niche protection" quagmire and all the fiction-breaking / game-breaking baggage that comes with that.

1) That is somewhat of the textbook definition of a slippery slope fallacy. Please show the process of how the proposed rough skeletons encourage such behaviour.
2) Why is that "bad enough", or even bad, outside of your preference? Descriptive labels are incredibly useful tools.
I mean, I get that this has aspects that go strongly against your preferences. But surely you can see that other people do not share your preferences, and admit that there might be - for them - value in such a concept?

Thinker
2017-11-03, 12:41 PM
On the bolded parts -- this is how it works out 99 times out of 100.

No matter how much it's asserted that archetypes etc are "descriptive", they quickly become prescriptive. It's rarely "here is this well rounded character and overall you could call him The Smart One" (which is bad enough), it's almost always "This character is The Smart One" and that's what defines and shapes that character. It's not descriptive, it's defining. It reduces that character to a single cardboard attribute, and it strongly implies that other characters can't be Smart without stepping on that character's toes... which also gets us into the whole "niche protection" quagmire and all the fiction-breaking / game-breaking baggage that comes with that.

How do you feel about skill tracks? They're not quite the same as character classes, but they do represent a progression of skills, something like:

Archer Tree:
Take Aim -> Long Shot -> Rapid Fire -> Volley

It keeps the archetype of the archer, but doesn't force the player to continue down the tree unless they want to. It also sets up prerequisite abilities to limit the really good stuff until there's been additional investment.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-03, 12:53 PM
How do you feel about skill tracks? They're not quite the same as character classes, but they do represent a progression of skills, something like:

Archer Tree:
Take Aim -> Long Shot -> Rapid Fire -> Volley

It keeps the archetype of the archer, but doesn't force the player to continue down the tree unless they want to. It also sets up prerequisite abilities to limit the really good stuff until there's been additional investment.

Honestly, they don't impress me. Most of them have a sequence of progress that's not based on progression of expertise or learning, it's just trying to lock powerful abilities behind added investment in other abilities.

In past discussions elsewhere, the defenders of such tracks have claimed that taking them apart destroys balance by eliminating the need to invest points (or whatever) in lower abilities to get access to higher abilities -- to which my reply has always been that they should have an individual cost reflective of their game effect, rather than a tack-on cost of requiring other abilities that don't reflect the actual character or the player's build intent.

These sorts of "tracks" are especially aggravating when they're in the form taken in FFG's Star Wars, with otherwise unrelated abilities crammed together in a web of prerequisites in order to reinforce the game designer's personal concept of what a particular archetype should have.




1) That is somewhat of the textbook definition of a slippery slope fallacy. Please show the process of how the proposed rough skeletons encourage such behaviour.


That is literally how they turn out 99% of the time. I don't care about the process in this case, just the damn results.




2) Why is that "bad enough", or even bad, outside of your preference? Descriptive labels are incredibly useful tools.


Because they're not descriptive even they people try to use them that way. They're inherently prescriptive -- I've never seen an instance in which character archetypes didn't immediately lead to characters being defined by the expectations of the archetypes applied to them.

This is doubly true when archetypes are baked into character creation, where the archetype is often used specifically to define what the character is and is not capable of. On top of that, look at how often players pick a class first, and then start building a character to fit that class.




I mean, I get that this has aspects that go strongly against your preferences. But surely you can see that other people do not share your preferences, and admit that there might be - for them - value in such a concept?


If a player wants to play to a cliche, then they can build the character around that. I see no value in constraining other players to a set of pre-approved cliches.

Frozen_Feet
2017-11-03, 02:01 PM
MBTI (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/the-myers-briggs-personality-test-is-pretty-much-meaningless-9359770/)? Please no (https://thoughtcatalog.com/daniel-hayes/2015/07/myers-briggs-nonsense/).

Yeah, MBTI is obsolete in the real world. So is theory of four elements, and Qigong, and Tarot, and any number of other things which can be used and are regularly used to create playable games.

So whatever opinion you have on MBTI, or any other set of personality archetypes, as pertains to realo life, is irrelevant. What matters is that MBTI gives the players fairly easy-to-understand and widely knowm sets of personality traits to emulate.

D20ragon
2017-11-03, 02:12 PM
I have even less of an idea what you are going for now.

You've said both that you don't want to limit player creativity in characters to enable a large variety of story types/narrative/groups, AND say that conflict with the character's archetype(s) is a critical point of the game. You absolutely cannot do this unless you custom-build every single character with a unique archetype. There'd be no point creating the system at all with all the design work you'd have to do for every single game.

You're all over the place with the 'archetypes' being mechanical, fictional, or mixed constructs. This is a really big deal but you seem to be agreeing with people arguing from each group.

I saw your health system thread, and with your expanded plans for it, it's so much better in every way than fiction-based archetypes - if that's what your goal really is.

Regarding emergent storytelling: this is what happens in every non-railroad game. It is NOT out of place in a TTRPG, it is the exclusive and sole property of TTRPGs and immediate offshoots. This is literally the only type of media capable of generating it. If you want emergent story, DON'T use archetypes, they are straitjackets. The whole scars thing is far better.

Scars is a system that I'm hoping enables emergent storytelling, ie: "we were going to break into the keep through the aquaduct, but the librarian has developed a fear of drowning and is unwilling to, so we're going to have to storm it head on. Storming it head on lead to the duelist's face being horribly scarred, so now when he returns, his lover wants nothing to do with him." I do agree that I misspoke: emergent storytelling is definitely prevalent in tabletop rpgs. You're right about that, I was wrong. I'm hoping scars adds to that emergent storytelling.



Not really.

Look at the way archetypes, character-type tropes, and personality "classifications" are usually used, both in fiction and in real life. Or even the way the siblings in a family get pigeonholed. There are reasons that some people are sick of the "archetypes" nonsense.

There's a HUGE difference between saying "X is smart" or saying "X is The Smart One".

Would it help if I found a term other than archetype? I agree, it doesn't seem to jive very well with what I really want to encourage. Being "The Smart One" would be a result of raising X stat to a high number. This would be bad. A player would be much better off having some points in "The Smart One" stat, but not enough to define the character.


I was with you right up until that 2nd to last sentence, where you just went off the deep end. These two things are completely unrelated. Emergent storytelling, as you say, WILL HAPPEN. It's pretty much impossible to stop it at some level. But there is nothing "straightjacket" about an archetype - unless you think that any kind of descriptive adjective is a straightjacket. No one imagines a conversation that goes like this: "My character is honest and straightforward!" "oooh! Straightjacket! Now you have to tell the truth ALL THE TIME!" So why do people think that archetypes are straightjackets and binding and restrictive? They are adjectives and categories. Nothing more. People need to get over their hangups about this stuff.

I agree with you in principal, but Max is correct, I really should use a different word instead of Archetype.


I think if you want the game to explore that, it would indeed be the right way to somehow enforce certain narrative/party roles - otherwise, any exploration you can get will be incidental.



Thanks^^
I think the problem with parting up "party role" and "fictional role" is that both overlap heavily (Or I am misunderstanding what you mean by any of those terms). Maybe that would be a good question: What, precisely, do you mean by "party role" and "fictional role"; where do you split the two, and would you be able to come up with a definition that doesn't split the members of the FMB between the two? (For a check to "how useful and clear can we make that distinction", if things that are usually clearly grouped together are suddenly split up, it might showcase a problem. Might.)



For this, I'd take a look at three things:
1. Modern Bioware games, and their inclusion of a morality slider, dependant on what kinds of actions you take going more or less into "good" or "evil" directions. It influences how NPCs react to you, and iirc also opens up some options.
2. In the same vein, Guild Wars 2's personality system, were it not now sort-of defunct. It tracks certain answers you give to NPCs that fall under one of three categories (Aside from totally neutral answers): Charming, Honorable, and Brute. The trick here is that you don't start in some undefined middle, as with Bioware; you select one of the three at character creation, and get 50 points in that, and 25 each in the other. Any answer you give gives you points for that stat - but reduces the others (equally), so that the result will always be three numbers that add up to 100. Out of the combinations then arose (Still arise, tbh, just hidden now) personality types - One for 50 in one of them (But both others sort of samey); One for having at least 75 in one; one for having 45 at least in two of them; and one final one for balancing it out. All of those sort of openend up more dialogue options, but the game never did much with this.
3. Legend of the Five Rings' Honor system (Though I can only speak to 4th edition), for how to implement such sliders in an RPG. Basically, a table, seeing what actions influence your honor in what way and strength, depending on how much you already have.
Keep in mind: This will all result in a lot of bookkeeping, and probably a lot of actions that would technically cause a blip on the meters not showing up.

So, what you could do (Just as an example, I will take the terms of the FMB for this. Will work with other terms as long as they share a category), is take your (Three, five; I wouldn't go higher) extremes - Those are the categories an action is measured by. Is this a Smart action? A strong action? A Leadership action, a heart action? Basically, what are the PURE archetypes, that aren't a mix of multiple others.
Then make a list of what actions would logically increase the character embodying that archetype - and points from what archetypes it would take, if there are some in those (So, choosing violence as an option would increase your "Strong one" archetype; and reduce some others - but probably the "Heart" archetype more than the "leader" archetype, if that makes any sense?)
Then think up some mixed archetypes. What if someone is mostly Strong, with a side order of heart? Or somewhat better rounded, but with a focus on smart?
And then, for added bonus, maybe the five/three types of action are also skilltrees, giving you more powers as you ascend them - with the archetypes (either pure or mixed) throwing in some special powers. (And possibly drawbacks.)

This might avoid the drawback you point out: Every archetype (Be it extreme or mixed) has some different drawbacks. Maybe being utterly reliant on strength makes people fear you, not want to talk to you, or attack you on sight - but being utterly mixed makes you bland, and forgettable, noone remembering your name.
...I am having too much fun with this; I should be working on other things (Including actually my own RPG building trials...)



For the record, I don't think this in any way contradicts itself with having archetypes - neither the wound system, nor the emergent storytelling.
For this sort of emergent storytelling of the scars, you'll either need players that just go with it and don't ignore it (Technically, loosing essence in Shadowrun costs you humanity, and detaches you from society and caring for consequences. Yeah, I haven't seen it in play either, outside of one of my own characters (And there mostly accidentally)) - or give actual mechanics to it. For the weakening, that might be obvious, for the hardening... Well, forcing players to take certain actions is somewhat (and somewhat rightfully) frowned upon. But you might be served by a sort of Fate-point system - they get points if they act in line with their hardenings.
That might also serve well with another aspect of emergent storytelling that you have seen as problematic: The amount of GM control over the story. If such points are in the system, use them to have the players have more control over the narrative, similar maybe to FATE, or Shadowrun: Anarchy. Or maybe forego a GM entirely, having all players take turns describing the happenings (Though I'd probably keep the GM, and just reduce their power; with maybe strong tips or even rules to encourage "saying yes" - "I grab an axe from the chopping block outside the cabin" being countered not with "But I never said there was one" but rather "Sure, so what do you do with it?", maybe with the GM having to hand out points if they want to enforce that, no, there is no axe.)



And there is still a difference between saying someone is "The smart one" and saying "They have to be smart all the time and always act like X".
Archetypes and tropes aren't straightjackets, they're descriptors. They say "This character mostly acts like that". A character won't loose their archetype being "Leader" if they defer to someone else's authority for a moment. A character won't loose being the "Heart" if they themselves lash out every once in a while. The smart one can be out of their depths every once in a while, or try to solve a problem by bashing the door in. You assign too much power to the concept of archetypes. I mean, sure, they can be used prescriptively, and that can yield bad consequences, but in and of themselves they aren't. Just a nice short-hand descriptor that can give a rough outline.
(As my ever-present favourite example, look at how Avatar deals with its Five Man Band, the way the characters all obviously fit their role without a shred of ambiguity - and all are still well-rounded characters, that can act against type without breaking it.)

There's also a reason people go for archetypes; and why people use TvTropes - humans like patterns. Sort things into patterns, constantly. And there is value to see how patterns can be interacted with. The fact that you hate them is alright, but that's just, like, your opinion, man. They aren't nonsense, they can just be misused. So can a frying pan, so can language, doesn't make any of those nonsense.
I think I can say one thing: The ideas being laid out here won't be for you. This won't be your cup of tea. Sure. But different strokes for different folks, and I think I could have fun with such a thing.

To address the bold:
I do need to consider the difference between party roles and fiction roles.

The idea of having such drawbacks with each stat is at the heart of No Truce With the Furies and is something I'm very much interested in exploring.

I don't know how much I really want to go with an alignment track like that, to be honest. I tend to dislike them.

I don't know if I would forgo the GM. It's interesting for sure, but as a GM, being able to create stories for others to innovate with is something I value a lot, and is something my players enjoy doing.

To build off of the idea of "Smart Guy bashing in door," I'm thinking that the more Smart Guy solves his problems this way, the more he also takes on aspects of Strong Guy, until he is Strong Smart Guy, not as Smart as he would have been had he continued to rely only on his mind, but also without the drawbacks that could lead to (maybe madness, introversion, tics, etc).

Finally, maybe it won't be Max's cup of tea, but if he can help me change the game so it's more palatable to more people, then I'll be overjoyed. If not, eventually he'll give up on me. (Hopefully not that one, there's a lot more work to be done).


Floret, the problem isn't that the archetype isn't 100% always successfully in archetypal actions. It's that they end up being ONLY the archetype and can't ever branch out. The whole idea is begging to flanderize things as fast as possible, and because he wants mechanical enforcement it is forced flanderization.

I, and I suspect max, have no problem with characters not doing a thing they're big on. The problem is that this sort of mechanics and characterization ends up defining you as X, and only X. There is really no way of making this work unless the intent is to force a particular group dynamic(which the OP says he wants to get as far away from as possible).

If you don't mechanically distinguish them, they aren't part of the game.
If you only mechanically distinguish them, you get setting-mechanics dissonance and it's just a super generic class system, except your capabilities are defined by personality instead of rational explanations of aptitude or training.
If you don't meaningfully distinguish them(i.e. a skill-based game where every class has every skill at the same cost and no bonuses) they're bad design. Important features need to have important effects for whatever the core gameplay is.

Everything boils down to it being bad design from every angle.

I think I am moving more towards a sphere based idea, as opposed to class based. Because you're right, classes as archetypes does confine players, whereas spheres as archetypes allows for a more pleasant blending. Maybe you just rank the spheres in importance to your character to begin with?

To address the bold: hopefully it's not irredeemable, but I guess we'll find out what I can salvage.


On the bolded parts -- this is how it works out 99 times out of 100.

No matter how much it's asserted that archetypes etc are "descriptive", they quickly become prescriptive. It's rarely "here is this well rounded character and overall you could call him The Smart One" (which is bad enough), it's almost always "This character is The Smart One" and that's what defines and shapes that character. It's not descriptive, it's defining. It reduces that character to a single cardboard attribute, and it strongly implies that other characters can't be Smart without stepping on that character's toes... which also gets us into the whole "niche protection" quagmire and all the fiction-breaking / game-breaking baggage that comes with that.

Agreed here. Niche protection is something to be avoided. How do you feel about the proposed spheres idea?


Honestly, they don't impress me. Most of them have a sequence of progress that's not based on progression of expertise or learning, it's just trying to lock powerful abilities behind added investment in other abilities.

In past discussions elsewhere, the defenders of such tracks have claimed that taking them apart destroys balance by eliminating the need to invest points (or whatever) in lower abilities to get access to higher abilities -- to which my reply has always been that they should have an individual cost reflective of their game effect, rather than a tack-on cost of requiring other abilities that don't reflect the actual character or the player's build intent.

These sorts of "tracks" are especially aggravating when they're in the form taken in FFG's Star Wars, with otherwise unrelated abilities crammed together in a web of prerequisites in order to reinforce the game designer's personal concept of what a particular archetype should have.




That is literally how they turn out 99% of the time. I don't care about the process in this case, just the damn results.




Because they're not descriptive even they people try to use them that way. They're inherently prescriptive -- I've never seen an instance in which character archetypes didn't immediately lead to characters being defined by the expectations of the archetypes applied to them.

This is doubly true when archetypes are baked into character creation, where the archetype is often used specifically to define what the character is and is not capable of. On top of that, look at how often players pick a class first, and then start building a character to fit that class.




If a player wants to play to a cliche, then they can build the character around that. I see no value in constraining other players to a set of pre-approved cliches.

Again, how do you feel about the spheres idea? Skill tracks are a mixed bag as well. You're right in that it needlessly locks players into the game designers idea of an archetype, but it also makes sense to me to have certain abilities only available to characters with a rank of X in Y sphere.

Thinker
2017-11-03, 02:52 PM
Honestly, they don't impress me. Most of them have a sequence of progress that's not based on progression of expertise or learning, it's just trying to lock powerful abilities behind added investment in other abilities.

In past discussions elsewhere, the defenders of such tracks have claimed that taking them apart destroys balance by eliminating the need to invest points (or whatever) in lower abilities to get access to higher abilities -- to which my reply has always been that they should have an individual cost reflective of their game effect, rather than a tack-on cost of requiring other abilities that don't reflect the actual character or the player's build intent.

These sorts of "tracks" are especially aggravating when they're in the form taken in FFG's Star Wars, with otherwise unrelated abilities crammed together in a web of prerequisites in order to reinforce the game designer's personal concept of what a particular archetype should have.



While it makes sense that someone can conceivably learn any skill at any time, there are often cases where you should learn one skill before another. I work in information security. Before I learned how to conduct vulnerability assessments, I learned how to conduct vulnerability scans. Before I learned how to do vulnerability scans, I learned about the basics of network engineering, Windows domain architecture, and system administration. In theory, I could have jumped straight into doing vulnerability assessments, but I would have been missing out on a lot of foundational knowledge and I'd be very bad at that job. In the real world, there are a lot of skills that people typically have to learn in order to excel at future skills - military types learn how to disassemble and clean a firearm and how to safely act with the firearm before learning how to shoot it; medical practitioners learn about human physiology and biology before they learn about medicine. You're right that there is nothing forcing that knowledge, but they are much better at their jobs for knowing it. It breaks my verisimilitude to think that there isn't any core knowledge in various professions or that skills don't build on one another.

As for Star Wars' tracks, I agree. There's too many unrelated skills (particularly static bonuses) for those skill tracks. I'm more in favor of skills that are related to and build on one another.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-03, 02:56 PM
While it makes sense that someone can conceivably learn any skill at any time, there are often cases where you should learn one skill before another. I work in information security. Before I learned how to conduct vulnerability assessments, I learned how to conduct vulnerability scans. Before I learned how to do vulnerability scans, I learned about the basics of network engineering, Windows domain architecture, and system administration. In theory, I could have jumped straight into doing vulnerability assessments, but I would have been missing out on a lot of foundational knowledge and I'd be very bad at that job. In the real world, there are a lot of skills that people typically have to learn in order to excel at future skills - military types learn how to disassemble and clean a firearm and how to safely act with the firearm before learning how to shoot it; medical practitioners learn about human physiology and biology before they learn about medicine. You're right that there is nothing forcing that knowledge, but they are much better at their jobs for knowing it. It breaks my verisimilitude to think that there isn't any core knowledge in various professions or that skills don't build on one another.

As for Star Wars' tracks, I agree. There's too many unrelated skills (particularly static bonuses) for those skill tracks. I'm more in favor of skills that are related to and build on one another.

Your examples (network security, firearms use, medicine) are based on progression of expertise or learning -- which differentiates them from many of the examples I've seen in games.

exelsisxax
2017-11-03, 02:58 PM
Again, how do you feel about the spheres idea? Skill tracks are a mixed bag as well. You're right in that it needlessly locks players into the game designers idea of an archetype, but it also makes sense to me to have certain abilities only available to characters with a rank of X in Y sphere.

Sounds to me like you're just calling classes spheres. There isn't an inherent problem with that, but you should recognize that 'spheres' are fundamentally the same thing as classes from a game design perspective.

Thinker
2017-11-03, 03:12 PM
Your examples (network security, firearms use, medicine) are based on progression of expertise or learning -- which differentiates them from many of the examples I've seen in games.

So, do you think that there is room for skill progression in that way in an RPG (disregarding poor implementation of previous efforts)?

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-03, 03:15 PM
So, do you think that there is room for skill progression in that way in an RPG (disregarding poor implementation of previous efforts)?


Yes, if done well and done from the right basis.

Unfortunately, most implementations I've seen have been the aforementioned hamhanded attempts at balance, stacking rather tenuously related skills or abilities not to reflect the need for foundational skills, but simply to make certain abilities harder to access and/or less common in the game.

Floret
2017-11-03, 03:25 PM
Scars is a system that I'm hoping enables emergent storytelling, ie: "we were going to break into the keep through the aquaduct, but the librarian has developed a fear of drowning and is unwilling to, so we're going to have to storm it head on. Storming it head on lead to the duelist's face being horribly scarred, so now when he returns, his lover wants nothing to do with him." I do agree that I misspoke: emergent storytelling is definitely prevalent in tabletop rpgs. You're right about that, I was wrong. I'm hoping scars adds to that emergent storytelling.

Quick note on that: Take the time to develop a solid groundwork for designing scars and hardens; not a fixed list, but maybe fixed categories of strength, with some examples. (One thing I did for my current own project with a similar idea is to give out permanent conditions, that you cannot get rid of. But then again, most everything in that game is a condition, and the condition system basically "the way you represent anything that would impede or benefit the characters".)


I agree with you in principal, but Max is correct, I really should use a different word instead of Archetype.

Out of curiosity, what would you suggest to use?
Some sort-of synonymous thing that has been thrown around like role or function? Trait, maybe? (Going full on for the "It represents what will be remembered" and take a term like "legacy"?) What you go with might severely impact the understanding of what you are looking for.


The idea of having such drawbacks with each stat is at the heart of No Truce With the Furies and is something I'm very much interested in exploring.

I don't know how much I really want to go with an alignment track like that, to be honest. I tend to dislike them.

I don't know if I would forgo the GM. It's interesting for sure, but as a GM, being able to create stories for others to innovate with is something I value a lot, and is something my players enjoy doing.

To build off of the idea of "Smart Guy bashing in door," I'm thinking that the more Smart Guy solves his problems this way, the more he also takes on aspects of Strong Guy, until he is Strong Smart Guy, not as Smart as he would have been had he continued to rely only on his mind, but also without the drawbacks that could lead to (maybe madness, introversion, tics, etc).

Finally, maybe it won't be Max's cup of tea, but if he can help me change the game so it's more palatable to more people, then I'll be overjoyed. If not, eventually he'll give up on me. (Hopefully not that one, there's a lot more work to be done).

I haven't actually checked out "No truce with the Furies" (Actually read that as "no truce with the furries" the first few times...) and from a quick glance it doesn't strike me as something I'd be interested in much - can you explain the system in more detail, maybe?

Well, I proposed it because of a flaw I see with tying this in inherently with build points (If I am mistaken about what "spheres" means, please tell) - that of mixing your role with your power; thereby mechanically encouraging getting "more extreme", or "locking into" a certain role.
Imho, if your character starts out not having (that clear) a role, and by "leveling" they get to define it out (Even if leveling is done by repeated action), you encourage players to behave "along type" to gain power. If I can only get up to full power by behaving in a certain way (or combination of ways), there is an incredible temptation to do that.
Now, sure, even if you start at "full theoretical capacity", and just shift what you can do with that according to player actions, there remains a certain impetus to commit actions in line with your roles, to not loose the powers you actually wanna have. The system needs to be at least somewhat forgiving in that regard. And you loose some of the idea of progression - after all, if you start at full capacity, there is nowhere to go but sideways.
(I think this might be solved by seperating out mechanics - having both "role" and, I dunno, a "reputation" stat, that, while growing (As more people hear about you, more power of belief who you are is there, or sth?), unlocks different tiers of skills - effectively decoupling power selection and power gain. WHAT powers you get is determined by role (what people think about you); how many (or what tiers) by your reputation (How many people think about you.).
Yes, this would (kind of, for some aspects of character capabilities) necessitate levels. I don't like levels much in general, but hey, sometimes even disliked tools might be the best.)
How would you handle that sort of player behaviour - feeling pressure to act in certain ways to unlock certain levels of power - without such an alignment track? And, how is a sphere system that "levels" due to your behaviour, conceptionally different? I mean, I don't like DnD alignment, but the tracker isn't about morality in this case, it's merely about what role people think you fullfill.

And, sure; that is kinda what I meant - The Smart one can do however many strong one things as he wants; but that will turn him into a mix at first - and if taken to the complete ignoring of smart one actions forever more; a full strong one eventually.

Meh. Some concepts are just niche. Some ideas will not work if you dilute them to appeal to more people.
While I can respect your willingness to engage with criticism, and think it's an important thing to keep - some of my previous interactions with Max while discussing game design have been a bit frustrating for me, as we have very different (and strong) opinions on what should be allowed in RPGs, and what areas rules should not apply to. It probably carries over to this from the last times we discussed mechanising social interaction; just to put my answers into some perspective.
Sorry, Max. It's nothing personal. We do find ourselves on the same side of discussions every once in a while, and most of the time I do find value in debating you, even if we don't. Most of the time. :smallwink:


Again, how do you feel about the spheres idea? Skill tracks are a mixed bag as well. You're right in that it needlessly locks players into the game designers idea of an archetype, but it also makes sense to me to have certain abilities only available to characters with a rank of X in Y sphere.

So you would tie character skills directly to their archetypes/roles/whatever? I would somewhat discourage that, as long as those aren't actually mechanical roles (As in, typical classes), it becomes... strange. And I don't like strict functional classes (As in, only label X can perform action Y/Gets Y skill), but that's of course personal preference. ...Maybe 5 Rings could serve as an example again, the way they blend classes (Their schools, that give special abilities) and point buy (Freely choosable skills, though the schools give you starting packages. The skills even grant their own special abilities sometimes.)

I mean, sure, give the roles/spheres/archetypes things that you get by having them, but don't have that be basic ways of interacting with the world, is what I'm trying to say.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-03, 03:32 PM
Yeah, MBTI is obsolete in the real world. So is theory of four elements, and Qigong, and Tarot, and any number of other things which can be used and are regularly used to create playable games.

So whatever opinion you have on MBTI, or any other set of personality archetypes, as pertains to realo life, is irrelevant. What matters is that MBTI gives the players fairly easy-to-understand and widely knowm sets of personality traits to emulate.

The only thing worse than emulating simplistic exaggerated personality traits and pretending it's a well-fleshed-out character, is emulating simplistic exaggerated personality traits from the hashed-up garbage of the for-profit version of a teen-magazine personality quiz... which was in turn based on a gross misunderstanding of Jung's ideas... which were themselves an utterly ridiculous mashup of superstitions and myths given a pseudo-scientific paintjob.

It's entirely relevant that it's nonsense; sitting down to play a game with notions of how people work on a fundamental level that I know are total batcrap nonsense -- see, MBTI, phrenology, Freudianism, Skinnerism, etc -- baked right into the rules is pretty much a guarantee that I'm going to be constantly kicked out of the character and setting by "What the heck?" moments.

Frozen_Feet
2017-11-03, 03:38 PM
And? No-one needs to pretend that, nor does anyone have to pass whatever standard you have for "well-fleshed-out character" in games which do not include you. :smalltongue:

Knaight
2017-11-03, 03:57 PM
I mean, I also agree that Myers-Briggs is essentially meaningless, but keep in mind we are talking about developing a literary, narrative experience, not a simulationist one. Things that don't mean much in regards to actual humans (folktale archetypes for example) can still be meaningful to fictional characters, especially as far summing up a character on a character sheet goes. Not saying that I'll use Myers-Briggs, just that I'm not going to throw things out based on their incompatibility with reality. So long as it's consistent within the game, I've got no issue with a game where everyone in the world can be expressed as a combination of tarot cards, personality types, etc.
Accuracy aside, Myers-Briggs is also really sterile and boring.


Meh. Some concepts are just niche. Some ideas will not work if you dilute them to appeal to more people.
I'm seconding this. Some people are going to be hostile to the core concept of a game regardless, and them not liking it doesn't mean that the concept should be scrapped. Max despises the very idea of archetypes and is generally hostile to the concept of narrative; he's not going to like this game regardless of what is done to it. Pex places a critical importance on the homogeneity of player experience across GMs, he's not going to like any number of successful toolbox games. I'm incredibly burnt out on standard fantasy and anything that looks like even superficially like the d20 system, but that doesn't mean that people should stop making D&D.

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-03, 04:16 PM
I'm seconding this. Some people are going to be hostile to the core concept of a game regardless, and them not liking it doesn't mean that the concept should be scrapped. Max despises the very idea of archetypes and is generally hostile to the concept of narrative; he's not going to like this game regardless of what is done to it. Pex places a critical importance on the homogeneity of player experience across GMs, he's not going to like any number of successful toolbox games. I'm incredibly burnt out on standard fantasy and anything that looks like even superficially like the d20 system, but that doesn't mean that people should stop making D&D.

I admit that some of this is my frustration from attempting to write fiction coming out... it's very hard to find writing advice that doesn't go on and on about archetypes and roles and trying to evoke reactions and so on, and those are all things I really don't like in fiction. I want characters, not cliches, and when fiction is trying to evoke an emotional response in me I often find it grating and offputting.

In RPGs, it's not all narrative that I'm hostile towards, I'm fine with narrative that happens to emerge as the game goes on. What is actively counter to my enjoyment of the game is imposed/intentional narrative ("we're setting out to tell this story about this theme" or whatever), or narrative causality ("this has to happen because it makes a better story" or "it happened because the plot needed it to happen"). And too often "narrative" seems to be shorthand for including things like archetypes and theme and such into the gaming mechanics and/or experience.

D20ragon
2017-11-03, 05:47 PM
I admit that some of this is my frustration from attempting to write fiction coming out... it's very hard to find writing advice that doesn't go on and on about archetypes and roles and trying to evoke reactions and so on, and those are all things I really don't like in fiction. I want characters, not cliches, and when fiction is trying to evoke an emotional response in me I often find it grating and offputting.

In RPGs, it's not all narrative that I'm hostile towards, I'm fine with narrative that happens to emerge as the game goes on. What is actively counter to my enjoyment of the game is imposed/intentional narrative ("we're setting out to tell this story about this theme" or whatever), or narrative causality ("this has to happen because it makes a better story" or "it happened because the plot needed it to happen"). And too often "narrative" seems to be shorthand for including things like archetypes and theme and such into the gaming mechanics and/or experience.

I agree with the bit about fiction writing 100%. What seems to be the disconnect is I believe that by breaking up various aspects of a character into... traits? (let's call them traits for now) and then assigning those traits values indicating to what degree they are present in a given character based on the players actions, provided that the assortment of traits was broad enough, one could make a compelling character that meshed well with systems driving narrative. As a writer, I think writing should not be approached as a game with set rules and mechanics. What I'm interested in is if, through the use of set rules and mechanics, namely the use of literary patterns that I personally find interesting, if not helpful to actually writing, one could create a narrative experience. I know that seems contradictory. If I wanted an easy way to play a completely narrative game that allowed me to express things exactly the way I write, I'd play a freeform game! The thing is, I like rules in my games. And I'm challenging myself to create a compromise that pleases me. If you're against that very idea, then we can't really collaborate. If you'd like to see that idea, complete with all the janky bits, come to life, then I welcome criticism regarding that. If the criticism is simply "this is a bad idea based in bad game design" then I don't really have time for it. I know that's probably true, and I want to try anyway. I don't want to come off as hostile, and I don't believe any comments on this thread were made out of hostility towards me. The point is, I'm not going to change my mind about the particular way I want to do things, but I'm happy to adjust/add on to that particular way. So, if this were going to be at all palatable to you, what would you suggest? Or is it just a lost cause from your point of view?

EDIT: I'll address points made earlier later, but I just got off work and had time to gather my thoughts a bit, so I wanted to post this response before I lost focus.

ufo
2017-11-03, 08:22 PM
Coming down from a panic attack, so my thoughts are jumbled, excuse me for any incoherence :smallsmile:

First of all, I think you articulate your thoughts about game design very well and it's been a pleasure to read this thread.

If I understand your spheres correctly, you're going for more of a spectrum than a scale, so a higher score in a sphere does not necessarily mean that the character is more powerful, but that this particular sphere is more defining for the character... ? Reading your thoughts about emergent storytelling made me think that archetypes or defining 'traits' could be described through ambitions. Having or lacking an ambition, and to what degree you fulfill those, are equally defining for a character. Ambitions are prone to change, which I guess is hard to deal with mechanically but I'd otherwise regard it as a nice benefit and tool for player agency. Depending on what kind of play you want to focus on, this can also be a wonderful vessel for player conflict.

Just some thoughts off the top of my head :smallbiggrin:

D20ragon
2017-11-03, 08:51 PM
Coming down from a panic attack, so my thoughts are jumbled, excuse me for any incoherence :smallsmile:

First of all, I think you articulate your thoughts about game design very well and it's been a pleasure to read this thread.

If I understand your spheres correctly, you're going for more of a spectrum than a scale, so a higher score in a sphere does not necessarily mean that the character is more powerful, but that this particular sphere is more defining for the character... ? Reading your thoughts about emergent storytelling made me think that archetypes or defining 'traits' could be described through ambitions. Having or lacking an ambition, and to what degree you fulfill those, are equally defining for a character. Ambitions are prone to change, which I guess is hard to deal with mechanically but I'd otherwise regard it as a nice benefit and tool for player agency. Depending on what kind of play you want to focus on, this can also be a wonderful vessel for player conflict.

Just some thoughts off the top of my head :smallbiggrin:

I love Ambitions, that's excellent. Fits right in with the idea of these things defining how characters are remembered, and gets at the idea that the characters are not defined by an archetype, but instead are pulled in many directions. If my ambition list was, say "master thief, great sage, matchless warrior" and I have matchless warrior at 4, sage at 3, and thief at 2, (numbers representing how far I've come in the pursuit of said ambition) those things represent my characters interests and the degree to which they are pursuing said interests. Then, if my character uncovers some secret and seeks to uncover more, my sage raises to, let's say, 5, representing my drive to educate myself further. However, the character still won't be as sagacious as the guy with 7 sage and 2 warrior, as the guy in question will have been accumulating knowledge for far longer. I don't know if ambitions will suffice to cover skills as well (for example, assuming that your ambition to become a thief means you possess thieving skills. Of course, "warrior, sage, thief" are not the ambitions I'm likely to work with. Is anyone else as interested/enamored of this Ambitions idea as I am? Are their obvious pitfalls I'm missing?

An aside: Something that people may notice is that saying certain ambitions determine things you can do (ie, warrior, sage, thief, to use the example I already established), is not very different at all from traditional stats and to some degree classes. I think a fundamental difference will have to be the method of improvement. I would like characters to do things first, then consider the impact on their ambitions second. If it makes sense in the fiction for your courtesan to become a terrifying murderer, they'll have to do it with the means they have at their disposal and their abilities as a courtesan. Then, once several murders are carried out, they perhaps gain 1 point in the ambition, "terrifying murderer," which they could leave at that, once the need for murdering is done, or continue to improve through more murder. I don't want a player saying "I want to be a murderer, so I'm going to buy the murderer trait next time I level up." It's a small difference, but to me, an important one. I'm considering something like "drive/will" stat that is perhaps tied to health in some way, as a way of aiding characters in doing things they want to do but do not have the training for? Am I babbling?